Clara and I are hanging out in the US yet again this year (we've got to take advantage of the fact that Clara doesn't have to pay for an airplane ticket yet . . . that, and a friend's wedding). Anyway, I'm stumbling across some interesting comparisons between my life in the US and my life in Mexico.
Lately, a number of Mexicans have been proclaiming, almost proudly (strangely enough) that Mexico is now officially ranked as the second fattest country on the planet--after the United States, of course. A number of Mexicans have proclaimed that they ARE the fattest nation on earth. I put them back in their place. Yes, I'm from the US. We have to win on everything. While Mexico certainly has more than its fair share of overweight people, it's got NOTHING on my country when it comes to obesity.
Ironically though, since I've been in the US this week, I feel like I've been bombarded with health/consumer information. So many magazines sport cover models who have lost over 100 pounds in weight (and I am so happy to see them there instead of the celebrities who need to fatten up a bit). Magazines, newspapers, the TV news, and community organizations feel like they can't tell the public enough to go out and take a walk. Walk, walk, walk--it's the new miracle excersize! (Kudos to Allen County, Indiana, for investing in a series of walking trails--one which goes right through my parents' new neighborhood . . . I can't get out there enough.) Eat fiber, drink water, buy veggies from the farmers' market--the barrage doesn't end. Nor do the fat-free, salt-free, gluten-free, carb-free, sugar-free options in the grocery store. Dear heavens!
At any rate, I've been overwhelmed with the amount of health information from every channel. And it's apparently been long overdue, or we, as Americans, would not be in the shape we are.
Mexico, on the other hand, seems to be, once again, still stuck in the sixties. As often as I hear solid information about how people should cut calories, go for a walk, eat more vegetables, I hear at least as many rediculous theories. For instance, the peach diet--eat nothing but peaches and you'll achieve your ideal dress size. Right. Cut out tortillas and watch your waistline shrink. OK, there may be some truth to this one, but tortillas, especially corn tortillas are full of good nutrients and even a bit of protien . . . call me crazy, but skip the pop and chips and things might really start moving in the right direction.
More than anything though, the only reason that I can see why Mexico is #2 instead of #1 in worldwide largeness per capita is that it's still necessary for most Mexicans to walk at least a little bit each day. In the US, we've made it so that it's nearly impossible to walk to any kind of store, recreational area, school, etc. (Unless one lives in a large, urban area, I assume.) In Mexico, at least where I live, it's inevitable that I'll walk to either the butcher, the corner store, the tortilla store, the post office, the bank or the park almost every day. (OK, we were smart and chose to live downtown.) But, even when I lived in smaller towns or in areas that weren't quite so centrally located, I walked a lot--basically because I walked to work every day. Unless I wanted to wait 10 minutes each way to sit on an overcrowded bus, I walked. It just made more sense.
But in the US, at least where I grew up, it was next to impossible to walk anywhere without getting run over. Slowly, things are getting better. But not quickly enough.
So let's just hope that Mexican city planning (what's that?) never follows the direction that the US took. Unless they're just bound and determined to beat the US in something.
I can think of better goals.