After a long weekend away in Philadelphia and Washington I feel that the clarity in why there is an obesity epidemic in the USA today has taken a new lease of life. In the past week I have been exposed to too many eating competitions, both at the university and on the walls of restaurants which promote the winning of such competitions as something to be proud of and kept in some sort of hall of fame!?











Think about it, a lot of people are competitive, or naturally want to see themselves as superior to others, by creating an illusion that winning an eating competition is a skill to be proud of, people are actually promoting such activities as positive?! My head is clearly spinning at this point in time!

Last week on campus there was an eating competition as part of a “festival of food”- The management all came up to me to see my response (clearly knowing I was going to be far from impressed!). The size of the burgers that were being consumed would have contained almost a weeks worth of calories for some people?! What I also found amusing was that there were other companies set up in booths to promote their products, and you had diet snapple (flavoured water) being handed out, right next to chocolate cupcakes, ice-cream sandwiches and an eating competition…lets just say I don’t think the healthy message was quite coming across!











My friends were dead set on trying a philly cheesesteak when we arrived in Philadelphia on Friday. Me being the naive one I obviously was in this situation, was expecting to see a piece of steak from the grill plate, with melted cheese on top!?  I was wrong! Add to the mix of saturated fat and sodium already in my version of the cheesesteak a huge white refined bread roll bun, and you can see that the light bulb on the obesity epidemic started to shine!









The restaurant was packed, and people didn’t stop at one. The walls were covered in plaques and posters that promoted past eating competition winners, record holders and famous people enjoying their meals..need I saw more!

Portion sizes as usual, for both our dinner, and the couple of beverages that were consumed post it, were huge (I’m almost starting to get used to seeing these serve sizes which is somewhat scary!)











I also found over the weekend that there is a huge monopoly going on here. Whilst in Washington we went to see the Air and Space Museum. After hours of walking around we decided it was time for some lunch. As soon as we walked into the ‘dining hall’ you could see that your only options were McDonalds or some other chicken sandwich option (which if I were to take an educated guess, I would say is probably a subsidiary company of McDonalds). There was absolutely no choice in what you could order. People were lined up like cattle and one after the other were ordering their McDonalds meals.

As I waited for my friends to get their meals I heard others making similar comments to mine, that what was going on behind the counter was almost impressive (don’t get me wrong, there was no positive connotation there!), with quite some system in place! There were copious amounts of workers and everything seemed to be happening in an efficient manner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a big McDonalds workforce in one place!

There were so many children there in groups, and all they could, and were eating, was McDonalds…

Once again I leave this with you, you don’t have to be a dietitian to work this one out!

For now, the travelling dietitian x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in New York City. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, and barre class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea in how to make this world a healthier and better place.

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