Why do Asian countries have a much smaller rate of obesity than the US?

Asians have a smaller chance of getting obese compared to people in the United States. While a considerable part of it can be traced down to genetic differences, other factors such as habits and traditions significantly play a role in keeping Asian people slimmer than their counterparts in the West.

You know that the quantity and quality of food has a significant impact on the body. But, attitude does too. People in the West tend to treat food not only as a means to thrive but also as a form of entertainment and leisure. No wonder that there are lots of eating contests here and there. For Asians, however, food only serves as a natural need or their means to sustain life.

Moreover, Asians eat in smaller portions. They may have a variety of dishes during meals, but they consume only small parts of it. Studies show that such a reduction in the food portion you eat can result in weight loss. Having a lower proportion of your regular lunch intake can help you lose a pound in two weeks.

An exemption to the said rule, however, are vegetables. They are served in substantial portions and consumed in large amounts. Don’t be surprised as their vegetables are brimmed with spices and flavors. Western vegetable recipes would surely taste bland to the palates of Asian people.

When it comes to Asian cuisine restaurants also tailor-fit the dishes they offer to the population they serve. While you may think that their meals are always deep-fried, they have lots of other cooking methods. In fact, frying is the most popular way of cooking. Many of their dishes are steamed or boiled, keeping them away from oily foods.

Asian cuisine is not Asian cuisine without fish and other seafood. The abundance of such provides them with decent amounts of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. They have lots of health benefits for the vascular, reproductive, and immune systems, and significantly contributes to weight loss.

Then, unlike Americans and Europeans who consume cold water or soda to wash their food down, Asians typically drink warm water or green tea after meals. There is a belief that cold beverages, when combined with fatty or oily food, gradually slow down digestion and may result in weight gain.

Another difference is sweet and snacks. Asians enjoy those based on seaweed, red beans, rice, nuts, fruits, and seeds. The said snacks are incredibly healthier than the cookies, cakes, chips, or chocolates most Western people are fond of gobbling down.

You can also see Asians eat lots of fermented food, such as kimchi, miso soup, and natto soybeans. Since the given food underwent the process of lacto-fermentation, they serve as natural prebiotics to the body—consumption of such aids in weight loss, especially on eliminating visceral fat that covers the abdominal organs.

Asian countries, however, have a high population density. With that, people from large cities utilize public transportation instead of using their own cars. Moreover, they tend to live in smaller apartments, where laundry shops, food stalls, and other public places can be reached by walking a certain distance. A typical Asian gets good exercise through walking longer distances compared to an American who normally gets to his destination by car.

Lastly, traditional Asian medicine revolves more on tracing the roots of diseases and preventing them. Western medicine, on the other hand, pays attention to the consequences of such illnesses. That is why Tai Chi, meditation, and other practices are popularly observed in Asia in the prevention of the development of different health conditions, including obesity.

More Readings:

Obesity (Wikipedia)

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