America is in the midst of a health crisis when it comes to both obesity and heart disease, two serious conditions which often go hand in hand. Hardly a controversial or surprising statement, the statistics in this regard speak volumes.
As is stands today, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, accounting for approximately 25% of all deaths each year. On average, about 735,000 Americans have heart attacks each year.
Now, a new report from the OECD has labeled the United States as the most obese country in the world. Not only that, but the U.S. also has the ignominious distinction of having the most overweight kids in the world along with the highest percentage of unhealthy teenagers.
The chart below is rather telling.
Despite a myriad of efforts to combat poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices, obesity in America today is more prevalent than it was in 2000. All in all, 35% of Americans are now considered obese. The issue is even more concerning with respect to children, where the number of overweight kids checks in at 38%.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many of the poor lifestyle choices adults make are ingrained from an early age, with poor eating habits being a prime example.
Recently, Quartz examined how a typical school lunch in New York City stacks up against a typical school lunch for kids in Paris. The results are jarring and really help explain why the U.S. struggles to keep its collective weight at a healthy level while other similarly situated countries around the world do not. Clearly, our bad eating habits begin at a very young age. This problem is of course compounded by America’s love affair with notoriously large portion sizes.
With so many factors contributing to childhood obesity, including poverty, food, lifestyle, environmental factors and more, it’s unfortunate that one of the variables that can be controlled is not taken all that seriously. Just looking at the chart above, three of the listed American school lunch meals would feel right at home on the menu of any sports bar.
Earlier this year, Sweetgreen put up a number of photos comparing a typical school lunch in the U.S. to school lunches served in other countries. Though its not as if every country is serving up creative salads and incredible fruits, many do seem to focus more on fresher foods while outright avoiding fried foods and items like melted cheese.
For the record, that’s fried “popcorn” chicken there on the lower right.
And here’s what Brazil is serving up to their children; Pork, mixed vegetables, black beans and rice, salad, bread and baked plantains.
And here’s one more for good measure. South Korea here is serving up fish soup, tofu over rice, kimchi and fresh veggies.
You can check out more examples of school lunches from around the globe over here.