Another Roundup – Globesity in Europe and Scandinavia

Recollection of the Last Winter-Old Czech FarmPeople in cold climates today are at a disadvantage because there is not as much opportunity to be active outdoors. In the old days, they didn’t have a choice. Going from place to place often involved walking, even with shoeshoes. Try it some time—it’s not easy and it burns a lot of calories.

Despite frigid temperatures, they had to get outside and provide food for the animals that pulled sleighs and carriages and other transportation devices. Animals did the vital farm work that provided food year-round, and they had to be taken care of through the winter months when there was not much to do but survive in the barn, waiting for the next growing season and their chance to be useful out in the fields.

Even in the cold, people had to get out and cut down trees and then chop those trees into fireplace-size logs and stove-size pieces. They did not have the luxury of deciding to stay indoors and play video games. Life depended on frequent and vigorous physical activity. Then, the Industrial Revolution changed the entire world in ways that made it unrecognizable to previous generations. Once the human organism had somewhat adjusted to these new conditions, the Junk Food Cataclysm came along and drowned the world in high fructose corn syrup and hyperpalatable pseudo-foods.

Obesity in Cold Countries

In 2011, Hungary bit the bullet and began taxing sugar, fat, and caffeine as a way for the government to save up some money for treatment of the damage caused to its citizens by those substances. Several other European countries sat up and took notice.

We originally mentioned Hungary’s fat tax some time ago and wrote about it, along with remarks on the similar struggle in Denmark and a few other countries. The brave and ambitious efforts exerted by Denmark also came up again more recently because of their influence over the authorities of Finland and Canada, who are working to stem childhood obesity in their own northern countries.

We also peeked in on what has been transpiring in such far-flung places as Uzbekistan and New Zealand, and looked at what the World Health Organization has been saying and doing with regard to the tide of obesity that has rolled over the earth. Bucking the worldwide trend, Norway and the Netherlands report relatively low rates of child obesity, and both countries are taking measures to keep it that way.

France is a real outlier, with laid-back Mediterranean habits, a diet that seems like it should be problematic, and a love for fancy sweets. Yet only 9.5 percent of the French are obese. Naturally, researchers are curious about this anomaly. Could their cultural habit of regular communal lunches be making a difference? Is social conviviality a necessary ingredient in the recipe for a sane relationship with food?

Childhood Obesity News keeps track of what is happening in the United States, and also of global obesity. Critics would point out that it’s all pretty much the same, because American-spawned corporations have exported obesity to every corner of the earth. The charge is difficult to rebut. All we can hope is that the ability to reverse the trend will also originate in the U.S., and that it will also spread around the world just as efficiently.

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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