City Living Is Turning Us All Into Urban Fatties

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Photo: istockphoto

Cities are perilous: crazed cabbies! Garbage-strewn sidewalks! Roaches! But here's one pitfall we didn't think about before signing that shady rental agreement: morbid obesity! Yes, we urbanites are husky gluttons who shove pancake-wrapped sausage missiles and mutated Taco Bell meat into our maws like there's no tomorrow. So says Dr. Kevin Patterson, an internist in Afghanistan, where the civilians are svelte and the soldiers are toned.

He told NPR's Fresh Air that "typical Afghan civilians and soldiers would have been 140 pounds or so as adults." Meanwhile, blubbery Canadians, Americans, and Europeans have "organs encased in fat. It had a visceral potency to it when you could see it directly there." Which is an interesting thing to say, because "organs encased in fat" sounds like something San Francisco's offal-lovin' Chris Cosentino would probably serve.

But it's not our fault: In the city, there are cheap, artery-busting goodies on every corner. When you're working crazy hours and paying $2,000 per month for an apartment with a fold-up kitchen, Double Downs are fast and economical. And they taste so delicious!

Patterson warns that the epidemic is spreading: Even Inuits now dine like us Western fatsos. They once ate caribou and Arctic char, but they've turned to "Kentucky Fried Chicken and processed food." Therefore, he predicts that everybody will be either a "dialysis patient or a dialysis nurse" someday soon. (Apparently, Catherine Reddoch, the 100-year-old New Zealand woman who's eaten a McDonald's cheeseburger every day for twenty years, isn't his patient.)

Here's the thing, though. It's been scientifically (and photographically) proven that McDonald's hamburgers are basically indestructible. Roaches are, too. So what if our arteries are as congested as the subway? If it's to be believed that we are what we eat, here in the big city, we feel immortal!

How Western Diets Are Making the World Sick [NPR]