Thursday, March 03, 2011

Fat Thursday, fatter Poland

Poles have now gorged themselves on an estimated 100 million paczki as another Fat Thursday has come and gone and Lent is less than a week away. But the joy of chowing down on the sinfully sweet deep-fried stuff of dietician nightmares hides a darker underbelly: increasing obesity rates.

Fat Thursday and McDonald's and kebabs and chips of all varieties and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate bars have not replaced traditional Polish desserts and snacks. They have merely added to the overall fat available. Gluttony is helped by the fact Poland's economy continues to grow and more disposable income is available for a little treat every now and then and then and then and . . . you get the point.

Some 50.7% of males aged over 15 in Poland are now overweight or obese, according to estimates from the World Health Organisation for 2010. This is stil well below the United Kingdom's 67.8%. Though often styled as the "fatman" of Europe, the UK isn't actually the worst. Greece, the recent "sickman" of Europe, takes the, er, cake with some 77.5% of its males classified as overweight or obese.

As any good dietician will tell you, the antidote to this Polish plumpness pandemic is diet and exercise. But as the obesity issue is becoming something of a marker of a developed country and noting 66.9% of my fellow Canadians are overweight or obese, all I'll say is, welcome to the fat club.

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