CommunityBrowse groupsBlogEtiquetteInvite Your friendsSuccess Stories


Do Europeans eat better than Americans?

I'm curious what the European or European-based PT community members think about this. Is there a greater level of nutritional knowledge among Europeans?

Sun. Feb 11, 9:38am

Add comment  
I'm not sure if we eat better, however I do think we eat much smaller portions. Also , I think we just get more exercise without realizing it by walking more than people in the U.S.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 10:46 AM

Add comment
Just returned from a trip to Ireland/England and I couldn't help but notice the difference in people. I think we have just gotten so use to being big here , that in a way we don't even notice it anymore. So, it was a weird thing to suddenly notice that everyone seemed slender. I hate to say it , but it made me realize why people might view America as the land of fat people (myself included ! ugh !) Agree with other comment , people don't seem to eat as much and walk more !

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 10:58 AM

Add comment
I have lived in three European countries and have lived outside of the US for over four years. I have to say, it really depends where you are. "Europe" is a broad term encompassing more people than the United States and over thirty countries, each with its own traditions. Where I live now I can honestly say has horrible eating habits. Bacon for breakfast, meat/potatoes the rest of the time. Lots of candy and chocolate. One of my friends specifies when he goes out to eat, "no vegetables." When I much on something raw, I get a bit of a look. The difference is, people here of all generations are obsessed with sport, be it walking, competitive, whatever. No one's on their duff.

My experience in other countries, is that there is a MUCH greater appreciation for quality food than America (generally speaking. I know some of you are connoisseurs). You want meat? You go to the butcher's. You want bread? You go to a bakery. And these people take pride in their work. Dinner is savoured and spent with family and friends AT THE TABLE. Familes tend to do activities together as opposed to renting a DVD, etc. The healthcare system is generally aimed at prevention and is lifestyle oriented. 5 -6 weeks of vacation per year is the norm and there are more federal holidays. (Not a wonderland. Obviously this means higher taxes, but I've always been more than happy to pay up.)

The point is, in some of the countries I've lived in, there is a much higher emphasis on quality of life and lifestyle than I experinced in the US. This is of course just an overall picture. And yes, there ARE fat women in France.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 11:43 AM

Add comment
My experience of living in the UK throughout most of the 90s...the people were of normal weight to ~40 lbs overweight. They eat abominably, they don't exercise, they're all alcoholics by our standards -- and they tend to develop all kinds of heart disease. Strangely, this surprises them.

When I lived in Spain -- now that was a much healthier approach to eating (but they all smoked like chimneys). It was definitely all about quality and not quantity, hardly any processed or frozen foods, and no fast food. I believe they have less of a need for these things because everyone lives with their parents until they get married, and mothers/wives are still largely "traditional" - or at least they were in the region where I was living.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 1:37 PM

Add comment
I live in Israel and I can say easily that on average Israelis are much slimmer than Americans though unfortunately they are catching up to Americans in the weight and fast food dept. Nonetheless, Israelis still eat many more fresh vegetables and salads than Americans and I do think that overall the eating habits are much better here than in the USA.

Being physically active is still common here. Hiking, biking, walking, swimming are all very common. The beach is close to many people, thanks to the long beautiful coast line. Several co-workers bike to our office, a couple walk (reasonable distances), and many walk up the stairs to our 4th floor office.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 2:43 PM

Add comment
I think it has a lot to do with availability of convenience foods. McDonalds are pretty much everywhere.... but many European grocery stores have much less by way of 5-minute-meals. Like the one poster said though, it depends on where you are. The UK isn't a great example of fine dining, that's for sure. In the US, besides the junk food outlets, there are so many short-cuts. Cake in a box, ready-made pizza, frozen meals, quick-boil rice, egg substitutes, packet potatoes, ready made pasta sauce, etc. All those things are laden with chemicals, and much of the goodness has been processed out, for want of a better phrase. Then, so many people here eat in front of the TV, and gobble their food (I'm guilty of that!).

Bottom line, when I was living outside the US (most of my life) I had zero weight problem. Since I've been here, that's changed, sadly. I'm not begging off from responsibility though... ultimately, I'm the one who puts things in my shopping cart.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 5:18 PM

Add comment
it's the work week

Not to say that we are not ultimately responsible for ourselves, but. The standard work week in Europe is shorter than the work week in the US. And any American who really wants to get ahead is not limiting him- or herself to a mere 40 hours. As a result, Americans really do have less time to prepare food from scratch. There is a DEMAND for those shortcuts!

If you spend less time at work, you have more time to spend on living healthily, including cooking fresh foods and walking around.

I was in school in France and lived with a university family in which both adults were professors (a more-than-40-hours job anywhere, apparently) and there were 4 kids. All the "mashed potatos" came out of a box and every side dish and entree was bought frozen at the store and microwaved. I would say the differences were: (1) portion size is smaller; (2) no eating near the TV -- family sat down together for dinner; (3) the kids were not allowed to drink milk. Let me say, the last was particularly odd as these people were not vegetarians, nor did they avoid cheese or yogurt. Just milk.

Must admit, I didn't lose weight there! I was perfectly capable of buying my own cafe au lait and croissant, with all the marvelous butter that entails, for breakfast.

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 6:16 PM

Add comment
Europeans vs Americans

I just got back from Eastern Europe, the portions were smaller, the meals were balanced and everyone was slender and good looking!

Sunday, February 11, 2007, 8:13 PM

Add comment
Yes and no

I worked in Central Europe for 1.5 years because of my job. I traveled all around the EU and stayed at nemerous places and experienced anything from Scandinavia to Greece to Ireland to Poland and all points in between. The differences that I saw were these:
1. The frozen ready made food section at supermarkets was usually small
2. Most veggies and meats were hormone free and organic.
3. people ate full fat everything (milk, cheese, fatty meats, ect)
4. There are fast food restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, BK but it was kinda "taboo" to go there
5. People eat many more meals a day but they are small.
6. Most everyone cooks at home
7. There is a lot more exercise in the form of using public transit to or from work, biking, ect.
8. The portions are smaller but they taste soooo much better.
9. Alot of people drink and it is socially acceptable to do so (in reasonable qualities)
10. Better/free healthcare.
11. There was a lot less salt/sugar in the food
It is not to say that there aren't fat people in Europe but there is a lot less of them. I lost 15 pounds while I was there just by eating home cooked meals and drinking a lot! On the downside some EU countries have a shorter lifespan than the US but they are catching up. A typical day of eating in Poland went like this:
1. Breakfast at home was a sandwich with tomatoes/cucumbers and tea
2. "Second breakfast" was tea and maybe a small sandwich/pastry
3. Lunch was chicken with cabbage and potatoes
4. Evening snack was a soup or salad, something small
5. Dinner was scrambled eggs, sandwich, soup, small sausage, ect
Yes you est 5 times a day but you never go hungry and the portions are usually enough small enough to fit on a small plate.
Most people brought lunches to work and everything usually tasted great. Lunch usually involves at least a beer or some wine. I know that Poland is not the pinnacle of cusine but it was all very hearty and tasty. When I came back to the states I was disgusted by the bread, meat, dairy products, pastries, the salty/sweet foos, and the ammount of people who not only had a little junk in their trunk but were 100+ pounds overweight! Before I used to eat frozen pizza for dinner and call it home cooking but now I cook 90% of my meals and I have started shopping at Whole Foods because it is the only place that has decent food. I know that food there is more expensive there but, I feel that the quality of food that you put in makes you feel better and helps you loose weight. It is ok if it is not fat free as long as you don't eat 5 pounds of it a day and moderate alchohol is not bad for you either; a beer or two a day is not going to kill you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 2:46 AM

Add comment
What is Europe?

As others have mentioned before, you cannot consider "Europe" which is made of dozens of nations as a homogeneous entity. Each nations has its own traditions. We don't eat the same things, we don't have the same number of meals and we don't have the same mealtimes. Things vary a lot inside a country (take the North and the South of France, for instance).
As for the two countries I know best (France and the UK), more and more people are fat due to the "americanisation" of eating habits. The main culprits are snacks between meals and ready-made meals. However French people take as many meals as they can together, around a table, and cook from scratch if they have time. Fresh fruit and vegetable are easily available and rather cheap. And portions are much smaller than in the USA.
I am a US size 18 at the moment and I cannot find any clothes my size (and I live near a very big city). Most shops don't sell anything bigger than a US size 10, some go up to a 14. I have to order online from the UK! So I guess the average French woman is slender.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 5:04 AM

Add comment

Explore Related Articles
Weight Loss Motivation   Sustainable Weight Loss
Weight Lifting    Hypnosis and Weight Loss
Emotional Eating   Help Losing Weight
Free Weight Loss Program   Weight Watchers Points  NutriSystem
How To Change Anything

Related Content:

How To Lose Weight- The Basics
Weight Watchers Points System
The Fat Smash Diet
The Eat To Live Diet
The Beck Diet Solution
How To Get The Motivation To Lose Weight


How To Be Successful Using PEERtrainer

How To Burn Fat
Online Weight Loss Support- How It Works
Does Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?
Tips On Using PEERtrainer
Visit The PEERtrainer Community
Diet and Fitness Resources


Weight Watchers Meetings
Learning To Inspire Others: You Already Are
Writing Down Your Daily Workouts
Spending Money On A Personal Trainer?
How I Became A Marathon Runner


Preventive Health

How To Prevent Injuries During Your Workout
Flu Season: Should You Take The Flu Shot?
Are You Really Ready To Start PEERtrainer?
Super Foods That Can Boost Your Energy
Reversing Disease Through Nutrition

New Diet and Fitness Articles:

Weight Watchers Points Plus
How To Adjust Your Body To Exercise
New: Weight Watchers Momentum Program
New: PEERtrainer Blog Archive
Review Of The New Weight Watchers Momentum Program

Weight Loss Motivation by Joshua Wayne:

Why Simple Goal Setting Is Not Enough
How To Delay Short Term Gratification
How To Stay Motivated
How To Exercise With A Busy Schedule

Real World Nutrition and Fitness Questions

Can Weight Lifting Help You Lose Weight?
Are Protein Drinks Safe?
Nutrition As Medicine?

Everyday Weight Loss Tips

How To Eat Healthy At A Party
How To Eat Out And Still Lose Weight
The Three Bite Rule
Tips On How To Stop A Binge