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Health

Russian obesity is comparable to American

14.01.2005
 

Unlike Americans, Russian people do not acknowledge that they are fat

Fat people live somewhere far away. According to numerous news reports, the number of fatty people in the USA is the largest in the world. The States obtained such a peculiarity owing to fast food restaurants and modern immobile lifestyle. The situation in Russia is different, though. Russian people move a lot, they eat a lot less and look very well, not to mention the fact that Russian girls are most beautiful ones in the world.

One may believe in such things, draw stomachs in in front of a mirror and blame the “horrible American statistics.” As it turns out, Russia does not have its own obesity statistics. In addition, there is no Russian epidemiology, or the joint medical data about the whole country. Russia definitely has cancer, heart attack,  stroke, TB and AIDS stats, but the Russian statistics often differs a lot from the one of the World Health Organization.

Russian people, especially those who live in the rural area, like to eat bread, sugar and animal fat - quite “harmful” high-calorific foods. A lot of people use lard instead oil for frying. Needless to say that the traditional Russian food does not differ much from American burgers.

As far as the style of life is concerned, it would be wrong to say that Russians are very mobile and sporty people. They can eat a whole platter of pasta before going to bed and then watch TV for an hour with a big can of beer and several packs of potato chips. There is an alternative for television and chips, though – a computer and sandwiches. One may say that Russians have been rather successful in adopting the Western lifestyle.

Russians have not adopted another aspect, though – a critical attitude towards themselves. June Stevens and his colleagues from University of North Carolina found out that Russian teenagers suffer from obesity as much as American kids do. Unlike Americans, Russian people do not acknowledge that they are fat.

It is a universally recognized tradition in Russia to stuff guests up with food. If a guest refuses to eat, a host will consider it a personal insult. If someone publicly announces his or her intention to lose some weight, it is not ruled out that people would simply laugh at this person, especially if it is a man. As a rule, Russian parents teach their sons to eat a lot. It is traditionally believed that a good appetite is an indication of excellent capacity for work. As they say in Russia, “there should be a lot of a good person.” A lot of “good persons” prefer to take a nap after substantial dinner, though.

It is generally believed that obesity is a scourge of large cities. In Russia's however, it is quite the opposite: this disease is common for Russian village people, first and foremost. Furthermore, child's obesity is even more common in Russia than in the States, according to the information from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Study. A lot of Russian mothers overfeed their children and do not notice their excessive weight. “If you eat well, you will grow big and healthy,” they usually say to their babies. It is noteworthy that fatty Russian children lose weight as they grow and reach an adolescent phase.

In addition to esthetic problems, excessive weight leads to cardiovascular diseases, increase the risk of a stroke, diabetes and other serious illnesses. In other words, it is one of the central indirect reasons of death rate in the USA and other “very developed” countries. Obesity is also a reason of depressions, nervousness and other psychological disturbances.

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