Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Are New Zealanders fatter than Americans?

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Kiwis are really measuring up against the global heavyweight.
We don't have so many mobility scooter-riding fatties, but we can get there. Photo / Getty Images
We don't have so many mobility scooter-riding fatties, but we can get there. Photo / Getty Images

Back in the day when New Zealanders visited America we were struck by two things: the size of the cars and the fatness of the people. In 2016, I reckon Kiwis are catching up.

There is nothing cooler than a stupidly big American pick-up truck. I love watching those huge, black beasts casually cruising around. Sadly we have small carpark issues here, so we don't have many of the cool, large ones. However, with every Kiwi driving a massive Ford Ranger and every second person in LA dropping down to a Prius, things are evening out. I feel car size parity could one day be in our sights.

Fatness parity is much closer. Ten years ago, Kiwis in the United States felt like runts. Undernourished waifs. The average US serving size filled us with awe. Not any more. We have made huge gains in fatness over the past decade. These days Kiwis can compete in fatness with any nation on earth.

A person is considered obese if they have a body mass index over 30. According to a 2015 study, 32 per cent of New Zealanders were obese, and 35 per cent of Americans. They're only just beating us. If we keep chowing down as a nation we could knock those Yanks off in a couple of years.

Along with the official figures, I've been running my own, completely unscientific survey of US lard-arseness. I didn't weigh or measure anyone; I simply walked around major areas of Los Angeles and Las Vegas counting how many fat people I saw. Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, The Tropicana Resort Pool. Counting fatties on my fingers. One fatty, two fatty, three fatty. Seeing how fast I could get up to 10 fatties.

On arrival home I did the same on busy Queen St, St Lukes and at the movies. I can tell you, there are just as many fatties here as there are there. We may not have the really big, mobility scooter-ridden ones. But fatty-for-fatty we are right up there with the Yanks.

Sure, obesity increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes and sore ankles. But if something is going to kill you, it might as well taste good.

It's not just on the streets either. I spent some time in a US accident and emergency last week. I had been involved in a humiliating tandem biking accident on the Venice Beach cycleway. My son and I were riding along nicely, until we spotted a New Zealand flag. We got excited, rubber-necked, jack-knifed and went flying. Thankfully my boy landed safely on the sand. However, with me pushing the body mass index close to obesity levels, I hit the deck hard. Massive pile-up. Lowrider push bikes, adult tricycles and bikini-wearing roller bladers careening out of control in every direction. I wasn't popular. I needed medical attention.

As luck would have it, two weeks before that I had rushed a friend to Auckland A&E. I can tell you right now, there were more big-boned operators in our hospital than theirs. If you wanna see large people in action, go down to the local emergency ward. Dozen of massive units wandering around.

But let's not be judgmental. Most of us are a little bit lard-laden here and there. If someone wants to eat a diet that causes them to secrete more insulin and therefore store more calories as fat than you do, who are you to comment? We all have our excesses. Each to their own. Love whatever body you've got. You are beautiful. Food is delicious. Get it in you.

Sure, obesity increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes and sore ankles. But if something is going to kill you, it might as well taste good.

As a patriot you always want your country to be on top. Rugby, cricket, sheep shearing. If we concentrate hard and keep eating like we are, we can easily knock the US off the fatness lists. Then it's just Palau, Nauru, Samoa, Fiji, Kiribati, Kuwait, Tuvalu, Andorra, Libya, Vanuatu, Bahrain, Micronesia, Tonga and a few others and we're number one.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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