On the face of it, you would have to say it appears to be one of the great oxymorons of all time: Walk into just about any decent hotel or motel across this vast country and you are assailed by signs directing you to the "fitness centre".
And the equipment on offer is impressive: running machines, bike walkers, muscle-building machines, gear to do sit-ups ... the lot.
Alas, I detect some guilty looks at check-in from people who ought to be camping throughout their stay in that very room, not signing the register and heading straight to the bar.
But this is not the only bizarre part of life in the United States. For, if all these places to stay offer fitness centres, how come so many Americans look overweight?
In fact, how bad is the problem in the US? Well, check out the latest official obesity figures table and there sits Uncle Sam, proudly in the No1 position. A staggering 30.6 per cent of Americans, about 60 million people, are listed as obese and, if so unscientific an impression is admissible to the debate, I'd definitely say that figure must be rising or, in this case, expanding.
These are only first impressions. But since I arrived here last year I've had the impression that the number of obese people must be on the increase. They come rolling across carparks, lumbering down shopping malls and, of course, heading into restaurants. The latter, inevitably, is their favourite haunt.
It is interesting, incidentally, to mention a few other countries on the world's most obese list. Mexico is second on the chart with 24.2 per cent of its population, Britain third at 23 per cent.
But the US' problem is omnipresent. You can't do much here without the problem rolling into your line of sight. And American culture seems aimed at helping you add pounds, not lose them.
I spent half an hour this week searching for a place in South Carolina where I could buy a simple sandwich. Gee, you'd have more hope of unearthing oil seeping from the ground. You couldn't move for takeaway pizzas and drive-thru Starbucks. But a sandwich?
I eventually found a place and invested US$6 ($7.50) in a tuna sandwich. It came in a deep paper bag, which raised suspicions. Firstly, the sandwiches were as thick as square wood logs. And thrown in for free was a packet of crisps.
The message seemed to be: "Hey, fella, have a free bag of chips on us. You can't get by on a skimpy sandwich alone."
I went downstairs to reception. "Are there any walks around here?" I inquired. The young lady gave me the sort of look reserved for a bloke who had just dropped his strides.
"Oh my Gard, a wark?" she asked. "Don't cha have wheels?"
"Sure, but I'd like a walk. What about those woods over the road?"
"Don't know what yer gonna find in there." So if walkies are only for dogs, then how can humans crack this grotesque problem that will lead to all sorts of illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, knee and hip joint replacements and so on?
They won't, is the simple answer - certainly not until the whole American culture changes and that doesn't look to be happening any time soon. There is a strong sense here that, "Hey, this is one thing we can't fix in our lives."
And being handed free packets of crisps when you only want a sandwich suggests that the US simply doesn't get it. It's as though the health debate bypassed this country.
Of course, that is an exaggeration. There are people who look after their bodies and try to eat the right things. Especially in a cosmopolitan place such as New York city.
But for millions of Americans it is as though no one ever told them about the dangers, let alone bothered to try and help them break the cycle.
That, in hindsight, is probably the most depressing factor of all.
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