Since coming to Scotland we have experienced a wide variety of foods and eaten out more than I would like to reflect on. We have had traditional Scottish chicken stuffed with haggis, less traditional burgers, spaghetti, curries and curries and curries, Japanese, Chinese noodle bars, Laura, Justine and I tried to find a Greek a couple of days ago. While in Glasgow we have the kitchen to prepare our own food, I still find myself eating out more than I should. Is it because it’s convenient? Because we are in a large city with new options that we’ve never tried before? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because eating is a big part of our culture, as are restaurants. Any large city will have restaurants with cuisine from all over the world.
I first began thinking about portion sizes in Edinburgh when I would come to an end of a meal out and have food left over but no fridge to take then home to (another bonus of having a kitchen in Glasgow!). Coming to Scotland, to Europe even if not mainland Europe, I thought the portions were going to be smaller than in the United States. I had this view in my head that despite their smoking habits, Europeans were healthier (a very vague term, I know) than Americans. But their portion sizes at restaurants are just as large as in America. I have experienced this in all of the places we have visited.
So I decided to confront my ignorant view of Europe and therefore Scotland as healthier with some facts. According to the National Health Service, 63.3% of adults 16-64 are obese in Scotland and 32.5% of children ages 2-15 were outside the healthy BMI range (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/TrendObesity).
Scotland is trying to combat rising obesity in several ways. It has started eight communities on the Healthy Weight Communities program, several healthy weight intervention programs for children, and Take On Life, a “national social marketing campaign [which] aims to tackle unhealthy weight, prevent long term illness such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, and make people feel more positive about themselves, by motivating behaviour change in healthy eating, physical activity and alcohol moderation habits.” (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/02/17140721/16). I have not seen any of the campaign advertisement myself, but here is a picture off the internet
Obesity is more than a national problem for the United States. Many countries around the world struggle with it, just as many countries around the world struggle with starvation. I’ve found many of my preconceived notions about Scotland to be very off. It’s important to not rest on these notions, but go out and find more information.
The more you know.