Frank Bruni s column, appearing in the New York Times yesterday, highlights the real reason why Americans are overweight. He describes his experience walking through Costco, when an epiphany pierced the fog of my gluttony. The conclusion? Our expanding BMIs (Body Mass Index), are due to an American obsession with size, with quantity, that manifests itself as surely in supermarkets and restaurants as it does on our highways.
But we re constantly trying to find other excuses when we really have to focus on the sheer volume of food. Bruni lists stories he s seen in the past six weeks trying to explain the obesity epidemic ranging from the effect of gut bacteria on body size to the effects of sleep deprivation on dietary cravings. He also goes into detail describing his experience living in Italy, where people are generally thinner. The key, he notes, is the absence of roadside signs for all-you-can-eat buffets, no advertising for a never-ending pasta bowl, a la Olive Garden, nor a Denny s style grand slam. Italians are content with a base hit.
Bruni cites studies done by Cornell University professor and ACSH scientific advisor, Dr. Brian Wansink, demonstrating that it s all about the vessel size when he showed that serving stale popcorn in larger-sized containers will result in increased consumption, as compared to serving it in smaller sized vessels.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky comments, Bruni hits the nail right on the head in his assessment. No matter how much we try to come up with other excuses for this obesity epidemic, what it comes down to is we just eat way too much and we re not moving as much as we used to. It s as simple as that.