Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Marriage makes you fat and other facts that clutter up my brain
The Americans may be fattest nation in the world, but Australia takes the cake (literally) when it comes to enabling behaviour. Two interesting cases made the news this week: an overweight kookaburra currently undergoing a rigorous training program at the Sydney zoo after gorging itself on barbequed sausages and hedgehogs so fat they can't roll up anymore. What I would like to know is why we feel compelled to stuff our animal friends with cholesterol and fries. I know my friend Kat once feed a seagull an entire pack of French fries dipped in chilli mayo, but that is because she hates birds and was willfully trying to cause it harm. (My mom once tried to teach their ridiculous dog Ozzy Ozbourne not to grab food off the countertops by leaving chilli/red pepper covered titbits on the table for him...he grabbed it, ate it, sneezed and then vomited all over the new carpets. So he won that round.) My theory is it's the same reason why women never want to order dessert until someone else does. No one wants to be fat alone.
I was at work yesterday eating a vetkoek (a South African delicacy...the name literally is translated "a fat cake". It's basically a glob of dough deepfried, cut open, and stuffed with nice drippy lamb mince curry or sweet jam, cheese and butter), and my colleagues judged me openly and with horror. They were both nibbling on rye cakes and apple wedges at the time. Bianca, who is the diet guru, says her idol is Kate Moss, who famously said, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin." I can think of at least 1000 things that taste better than being thin. At my thinnest I weighed 90 pounds and was living off of shakes they give to cancer patients (I had a rather severe illness that caused me to lose weight rather rapidly and not be able to eat for 6 weeks). At that point, while slurping those shakes that tasted like birdseed, I would have happily given up my 4-inch waist for a steak.
But here's a few things about fat that I think you'd find interesting:
1. Fat just tastes better. It really does. There was a reason our forefathers invented fire and chased dinosaurs. That is why sushi sucks. It's an evolutionary step backwards to eat raw fish.
2. The Roman physician Galen wrote about a senator who was so fat he couldn't walk unless two of his slaves carried his stomach for him.
3. Dionysius of Heracleia was so fat he developed sleeping disorders and had doctors on standby to prick his flesh with needles while he was on the throne. He died at age 55, considered to be a ripe old age at the time. Proving every smug and tanned TV doctor and healthnut wrong.
4. A man observed by the celebrated Dutch physician Hermann Boerhaave took his meals at a table that had been cut away in a semicircle to accommodate his circumference: not having slaves to help him, he used a sling worn around his shoulders to carry his belly.
5. A Gentleman's Magazine of 1789 acquainted readers with a man who hadn't left his bed under his own power for three years: to change the sheets, he was hoisted up with pulleys. He was over 80 years old at the time, and in excellent health - apparent from rheumatism.
6. The heaviest human being for a time came from the USA - weighing 1600 pounds. She appeared on the Jerry Springer show shortly before her death.
7. Married people, on average, are twice as likely to be overweight than singles.
8. America is the fattest nation in the world - approximately 50 million of its citizens are obese and 300 000 of them die every year because of this.
9. Physiologist James Hill calculated that at the current rate ALL Americans will be overweight by 2050.
10. In Mauritinia, fat is considered beautiful. So much so that young girls are sent to "fat camp" where they are forced to lie still and gorge on rich foods. About 20% of these girls are forcefed until they gain the desirable weight.
Happy eating y'all