This has been bothering me for a while, and I just never posted about it. I've discussed it at great length with my fellow Americans here, but no one has actually written about it... well here goes nothing.
The majority of the world has this perception of Americans as fat, lazy, fast-food eaters that live unhealthy life-styles. I guess that makes sense, considering we are the fattest country in the world and we founded McDonald's, but I disagree. My friends and family back home live a MUCH healthier and active lifestyle than my family and friends here in Spain. Every time I go for a run my family looks at me like I am crazy, and questioned why I would ever run a half marathon for fun! The only active one in my host family is my youngest sister who is a swimmer, and the other 4 ppl in my family do nothing! I feel like comparatively they eat a lot more than we do back home (lunch is huge, I stuff myself at lunch and they still eat way more than I ever could!), and they drink way more soda and eat way more junk food than I ever do at home. People are constantly buying chips and snacks, chocolate, and drinking Coke... whereas back home my one guilty snack is chips (hint of lime) and salsa (or cheese). The people you see out running or riding bikes are in the minority, and are usually fanatics. The majority of the people here are sedentary, though, I guess they do walk more ('cause everything is closer) and drive less. Did you know that McDonald's sales are higher in Europe than they are in the US? That means they eat MORE McDonald's than we do! and Americans still get the bad reputation.
Overall though, I feel like I am leading an unhealthier life here in Spain than back home. I am eating until I am uncomfortably full (and still getting scolded for not eating enough), I drink soda (and not just for mixed drinks), and I eat crappy snacks like chocolate and chips (not together). I try to run 5 days a week for at least 40 minutes, but that's just not enough to make-up for the damage I am doing to my body with food and drink. I am frustrated, and ticked off that we still get a bad rep. while there are others that live unhealthier!
Side-note: There are extremes on both sides (skinny, and fat) and Americans usually tend to have more of the extremes while Spaniards are in general all around the same size...