09/21/2012 05:16 EDT | Updated 11/21/2012 05:12 EST

Weight Loss Tips From Around the World


North America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. The reasons are multi-faceted. Fast food; super sizing; convenience; lack of exercise; work schedules; no time; family demands and stress. People from other countries have similar factors in their lives but manage to keep their body weights at a healthier level. So what are their secrets?


The Mediterranean Diet

Italians, Greeks and Spaniards, have lower rates of heart disease and less obesity than North Americans. One of the reasons is that quality of the food always wins over quantity. They use fewer processed foods than we do and love to cook seasonally with whatever is fresh at the time. No Chinese buffets in sight! They also eat smaller amounts of food and have their largest meal in the middle of the day.

Mediterraneans favour vegetables, legumes, whole grains and heart healthy fats, as opposed to our "meat and potatoes" type of diet. Studies all state that those who primarily eat fruits and vegetables and whole grains weigh less.

The high consumption of fattier fish contains Omega 3 fatty acids and explains the lower rate of heart disease which prevents clots from forming.

Spaniards enjoy "tapas", smaller meals which are consumed slowly and mindfully. Slower eaters tend to have lower BMI (body mass index) resulting in the ability to lose weight more efficiently since your mind tells your body you're full sooner.


The French eat croissants, cheese, creamy sauces and bread yet have lower rates of obesity and heart disease than North Americans! Perhaps the red wine with the antioxidants is part of the reason. But it's more likely due to the fact that the French snack less and eat the above higher fat foods in moderation. Their meals in general are not of the processed fast food nature, but rather of wholesome fresh foods. Eating is also an experience for the French and meals are enjoyed as an activity rather than a necessity as in North America. They take longer to consume meals compared to our country where we drive and wolf down our food!


Japanese women are slimmer than North American women and have one quarter of the incidences of breast cancer than people from other countries. High levels of estrogen can increase cancer risk which occurs in our environment. The Japanese diet of soya based foods contains phytoestrogens which are believed to block the high estrogen and may result in lower breast cancer cases. The Okinawa people who live on a group of Japanese islands have the highest rate of people living to 100 (Centurions). They have an 80 per cent lower risk of heart disease and half the risk of ovarian and colon cancers. The belief is to their diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, raw fish, whole grains, soya, omega 3 foods, little red meat and salt and small amounts of fat.

Let's try to learn some examples from our neighbours!


Diets From Around the World