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"Ahab had cherished a wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last come to identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations. The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them... that intangible malignity which has been from the beginning... deliriously transferring its idea to the abhorred white whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, against it. All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain, all the subtle demonisms of life and thought, all evil, to Crazy Ahab, were visibly personified and made assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the White Whale's hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his race from Adam down..."

Who is the Captain? Non-Americans? Americans? Bush? Osama? The German MSM? The Germans? DMK?

There are more important questions for our consideration than the relative fatness of Amis and Krauts. For example, the absolute skeletal thinness of many Sudanese, and other Africans.

Get a grip, little Pequod-blog. Fare thee well.

Starbuck,
First Mate

David,

You have to realize that it was those terrible Amis who brought fast food to Germany and that's why they become fat.
It's Amerikas fault. :)

While it is annoying to see articles like that first one you linked to, but I would hate to all my burly friends and relatives in Germany receded to wispish skele-euros. mehr schnitzel, bitte!

Germany male: 48.0% overweight + 18.8% obese (Stern article, based on Eurostat)
German female: 31.3% overweight + 21.7% obese (Stern article, based on Eurostat)
US adults: 65.0% overweight + 30.0% obese 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Sorry, Ray.

Ah, cryptic, unread quotes from a town best noted for pretentious boors. How Bostonian. It kind of makes me want to have a cold roast beef dinner and talk about my ten day trip to some third world country where I brought a shoebox of broken eyeglasses to the ever so grateful peasants. I filmed it, and it’s on my Apple MacBook. Want to see?

Hi blue,

I think the point of the posting is not about a direct comparison between the US and Germany, but more about the hypocrisy of the German media...in this case Focus. You also get this hypocrisy during casual conversation with Germans. Well, you're right, Americans are more overweight and obese. There's no denying that. However, Germans, and many others in Europe, are following right in our footsteps.

I've now lived in Germany for nearly 20 years. Every summer, I visit the schwimmbad and strand. I can tell you this...I've noticed a hell of a difference in the waistline of Germans between 1987 and 2006.

Carl Spackler

dayum, you are good!

hey retard with the usa-germany comparison, the 65% number is overweight OR obese - 65% total. you think 95% of americans are obese? i mean, maybe texans, but...

It looks like Mr. Blue is also Mr. Magoo. He not only needs a seeing-eye dog but a mutt to read the articles and websites for him (a literate and numerate pooch is just what Blue Magoo needs).

*

I have a problem understanding Your argument, Ray D.:

1)German media are lying and anti-American, as shown in a Focus piece about obesity in the US.

2)German media tell the truth, as shown in the Stern report about German obesity.

You can believe one, but not both of these claims to be true. This reminds me of Orwell´s doublethink and the Epimenides paradox (All Cretans are liars.).

???

"You have to realize that it was those terrible Amis who brought fast food to Germany and that's why they become fat. It's Amerikas fault. :)"

On the other hand, the Europeans are a lot more serious about treating obesity effectively. Just ask Louis XVI.

@Tropby

"I have a problem understanding Your argument, Ray D.:"

It's really not that difficult to understand, Tropby. In general, the point is that it gets tiresome to hear people constantly bitch about your problems, when they obviously have problems of their own. Perhaps it would help if you tried to become an American in your imagination for a few days? Your references to Orwell and Epimenides are interesting, and display your erudition very nicely, but, of course, this blog has never claimed that the German media always lie or always tell the truth.

"I've now lived in Germany for nearly 20 years. Every summer, I visit the schwimmbad and strand. I can tell you this...I've noticed a hell of a difference in the waistline of Germans between 1987 and 2006."

It gets even more extreme if you go back as far as I do, to the early 70's. There were "pleasingly plump" and "svelte" Germans back then, but I don't recall seeing any back then that were really over-the-top obese.

BTW, has anyone seen the White Whale?

@ blue,

Your problem is that you misinterpret the facts. If you click on the link you provide, it clearly states:

"Results from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese."

In other words, your formulation of "65.0% overweight + 30.0% obese" is utter nonsense and simply false. That would mean that 95% of Americans are either fat or obese which is frankly bullshit. In fact, the actual figure, 65%, is just about the same as the current figure for Germany - in fact, I think it is slightly lower.

Sorry blue.

@ blue,

Your problem is that you misinterpret the facts. If you click on the link you provide, it clearly states:

"Results from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese."

In other words, your formulation of "65.0% overweight + 30.0% obese" is utter nonsense and simply false. That would mean that 95% of Americans are either fat or obese which is frankly bullshit. In fact, the actual figure, 65%, is just about the same as the current figure for Germany - in fact, I think it is slightly lower.

Tropby
This reminds me of Orwell´s doublethink
Actually, Orwell had you in mind. No one is disputing the fact that far too many American children are overweight. That is objective fact. But Stern induldged in a slur - 'fat and lazy'.

Did it use any slurs when writing about overweight Germans?

The inability - or unwillingness - to discern the distinction is a trait Orwell was all too familiar with.

Helian,

Wasn't there one in Old Towne?

Ooops, I am sorry Ray, it was an honest mistake. I had read the definitions of obese and overweight next to the graphics to make sure they correspond to the European statistics only to then miss the important "or" in the graphics. You are correct, 35% overweight, 30% obese in the US. Sorry.

@James W.

I've now lived in Germany for nearly 20 years. Every summer, I visit the schwimmbad and strand. I can tell you this...I've noticed a hell of a difference in the waistline of Germans between 1987 and 2006.
I know what you mean. I myself am trying hard to get down from my BMI of 28 right now.

I’m not overweight. I’m underheight.

I’d be taller, but the taxman has beaten me down so, every year, in every way, it’s almost easier to crawl.

I think the tax authorities mentioned something about a solution to my stooped over shortness. Something about a ‘rack’.

So, for me, things are looking up, which is nice.

It's been a while (15 yrs) since I left Germany. Are there really obese people over there now? When I left, there were a number of overweight, but not really obese people.

Ah, yes, I'll never forget having the same conversation innumerable times with Germans, telling me how almost all Amis were so dick und fett, and there I stood, all 5'10" and 124 lbs of me, size 4, (that was in my youth), talking with someone who really was overweight. I'd try to point this inconsistency out to them, but they didn't want to hear.

@Tropby
I think for people like you we have to make it very graphical in order to understand.
The point here is:
It is very stupid and hypocritical if you laugh about someone who just stepped into a pile of shit while standing in a pile of shit, though maybe smaller, yourself.

Got it?
I still don't think so.

Ah, garydausz also highlights -- unintentionally, I think -- a significant difference between the US and Germany.

** Stereotype Warning! **

Americans generally clean up after their dogs in public -- no stinking piles of crap all over the sidewalks in town just waiting for some inattentive pedestrian to step in it and smear it around even more.

And, we definitely do not take our dogs (seeing-eye dogs excepted) into restaurants. I can't count the number of times I've inadvertently kicked someone's mutt curled up under the dinner table, or had the bejeezus scared out of my little girl by someone's wolf jumping up and barking in the restaurant. What's up with that? It's unsanitary and dangerous. And, of course, you get the evil eye if you dare to suggest that the dog owner curb their dog.

Ahem, sorry. Didn't mean to wander OT. Where were we? Oh yes, the kettle calling the pot black...

@garydausz

"It is very stupid and hypocritical if you laugh about someone who just stepped into a pile of shit while standing in a pile of shit, though maybe smaller, yourself."

They're not very original, are they? They've tried the same diversion twice in a week. If you draw attention to quasi-racist headlines such as "American Kids are Fat and Lazy," they bombard you with buckets full of statistics about relative percentages of body fat. Of course, the headline is racist propaganda, and will remain racist propaganda, regardless of the relative heft of German and American children. The idea is to divert your attention from indefensible hate peddling to statistical trivia. They tried the same gambit when Medienkritik recalled the American flag draped cowboy boot crushing German workers. Instead of simply admitting the simple truth that the Stern cover was a horrific example of propaganda designed to promote hatred between peoples, they started citing arcane details about the management techniques at Opel and Chrysler. What they are trying to do is obvious. Why they do it isn't so clear. Perhaps they should take a good, long look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves a couple of simple questions. "Why am I shilling for Stern, SPON, and the rest of the hate pedlars? Why am I collaborating with the promoters of hate?"

*Sigh* I hate pissing contests. They require and produce only losers.

Sterotypes sell well, be they American, German or whatever. For example, in the current Airbus crisis, the French are - across the German media - nearly unanimously depicted as twisted, cunning elitarians that "mercilessly push for their own interests" (France d'abord) - even before anything has been reported or decided yet (and Galois is a good manager). Of course, this is not reported here, because it is only a medienkritik blog when it comes to the US, but the tendency in the German media is very strong and stereotypic. We are far away from economic reasoning in this case.

Helian,

Yours are truly words of wisdom.

My personal observation is that we, at least in this area (Upstate NY), do tend to be overweight. I think part of it is that we have to drive everywhere. Public transportation is not widely available. When I visited my daughter in Germany, we drove and parked near the train station, then walked to the station, and walked around in Frankfurt all day. When I was in Japan, it was similar. One had to walk a lot to go anywhere.

Here, except for the annual trip to New York City, there is less opportunity for walking. There are no sidewalks, and it is not safe to walk beside the road in winter. I go to the gym, and run regularly on a treadmill, but it is not the same as a lot of regular walking. The comment about lazy is probably unfair. There are a lot of people who can't afford membership in a gym.


Here’s another small detail for the non German speakers:

The title of the Focus article is "US-Kids sind fett und faul", but
the title of the Stern article is "Deutsche Männer sind "Pfundskerle" ".

Pfundskerl translated literally is pounds guy, but means reliable friend or great guy (pun obviously intended). So, in English:

overweight "American Kids are Fat and Lazy"
but
overweight "German men are "great" guys".

@helian

Well, there is a saying in german that typifies the german way of argumentation: "Es kann nicht sein was nicht sein darf" The translation is: "It can't be what mustn't be".

Cynthia. Your White Whale is John Kerry. Captain Ahab is Mohamed Khatami. The world premiere was in Davos a little while ago.

Keep on hunting the little krautfressers that bother you... ;>)

Sterotypes sell well, be they American, German or whatever.

german observer

Is this an attempt at rationalizing the anti-American bias in the German media as being just stereotypes that happen to sell well? Do you also claim that there is nothing special about it, since the German media stereotypes other countries as well?

WhatDoIKnow

1. No.
2. No.

german observer

Then what was your point?

WhatDoIKnow

As I said: that stereotypes sell well.

As I said: that stereotypes sell well.

german observer

And how does this relate to the subject of this post?

@ Tropby,

Your comment is almost too stupid to respond to. But for the record, your premise, (that we somehow claim that everything the German media has ever reported is a lie and anti-American), is total bullshit.

Blue... you REALLY have to be careful before throwing out strings of statistics.

We keep hearing from our European friends that our poor children are starving, but a few conversations later, they're telling us that our children are fat and lazy. Truth: The number 1 health problem for children in our welfare system is obesity: The US has the world's fattest "starving" children.

However, our obesity stats are suspicious all by themselves. Several years ago, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta CHANGED the method they use to measure body height vs weight to come up with a "standard" for human weights. The new method is extremely suspect, but was nevertheless imposed on health centers all across the US.

One of the worst things about it is that it does not account for muscle mass OR bone mass OR genetic factors OR lifestyle. The result is that people who are athletic and have heavy muscle mass are being counted as "fat"... Arnold Schwartzenegger came up "obese"! On the other end of the scale, people like me who have a small skeletal frame get a free ride... even when we actually ARE fat... because our small skeleton isn't accounted for. My weight kept being counted as "normal" when I was at 130 pounds and looked 6 months pregnant (I am only 5'2" and VERY small-framed). However, I nevertheless joined a gym and burned that weight off, and am now considered "underweight" even though I have a decent figure for a woman pushing 60.

At any rate, the simple fact that Schwartzenegger-- or any other bodybuilder-- can possibly be considered "obese" by the CDC's new method MAKES their new system suspect. The fact that I am classed as "underweight" completely destroys my personal confidence in their method. And when those bodybuilders leave the doctor's office, their weight gets put into a cold database, and their weight comes up on the computer as "obese" without commentary on the muscle mass... skewing the stats.

This is where US "obesity" rates are coming from... and that is NOT good!

And one other thing... memory. When I look around today, I don't see many more people who seem overweight than what I remember seeing back around, say 1955. I just don't SEE an unusual weight "crisis" here. Maybe it's because I live in Florida not far from the coast and women are "bikini" conscious here (and, yes, I can wear a bikini at my age!), but whatever the reason, I just don't see the Great Weight Crisis here.

WhatDoIKnow

There is a stereotype that American children are fat (well... there is some reason to believe that, however, see the report we discussed... they have the highest BMI on average) that has been taken up by Stern. Apart for other reasons of publishing this, e.g. a political agenda that is obvious, this sells well. For stereotyped reporting, look at the British yellow press. In the US, there is stereotyped reporting as well (on the left: Chimpy McBushitler, on the right: Eurabia).

New Yorkers can kick Bush's ass. I wonder whether everybody would have gone ballistic if this had happened not in New York, but in Berlin.

LCMama

I gather we are about the same age. I agree with your rant except for one thing - diabetes in children. That apparently is a real problem outside any change in reporting methodology.

I don't know what my BMI is. What I do know is that my doctor told me not to go below 125 lbs, lest I endanger my bones. I lost 2 lbs since my check up last year and got yelled at. sheesh. And my doc HATES this BMI stuff. It makes her turn purple.

Almost worth the $$$.

More distraction. ;-)

I still hold the differences in the U.S. and Germany to be statistically significant. Weight distributions tend to be approximately bell-shaped and the higher obese numbers of the U.S. point to quite a higher median value. Be aware that there are strong variations across the U.S., both across state borders and between ethnic groups. You will find more detailed info on obesity in the U.S. here.
For those interested, graphics on obesity in Germany by sex and age (1997 data, so this is 10 years old): total, male, female (underweight is BMI less than 18.5, normal 18.5 to 25). The data is from Eurostat (works for IE, doesn't seem to like Firefox), you can look for other countries, as well.

@LC Mamapajamas, Pamela
I think the body mass index was introduced in the US to conform to the global standard, adopted by the WHO as a useful measure. While I agree that the BMI system is not necessarily a good measure in each individual case, I expect bodybuilders or your case to be the rather small exception to the rule. These tend to averaged out as soon as you consider larger groups of people. Over here BMI is used only as a rule of thumb when it comes to individuals. Pamela, in case you want to drive your doc really nuts, try this BMI calculator and present her with a BMI time series. ;-)
"I just don't SEE an unusual weight "crisis" here.
There seems to be a strong trend towards obesety nonetheless. It could well be, that it manifests more in some quarters than others and that you indeed live in a "bikini conscious" area. I guess we are faced with similar trends over here.

@Helian
Uhm, I guess "bombard you with buckets full of statistics" is a shot in my direction. I agree with you on "Of course, the headline is racist propaganda, and will remain racist propaganda, regardless of the relative heft of German and American children." However, read Ray's headline "Who's fat? German Hypocrisy by the Kilo". That set IMHO the tone of the post: "Germans deride the Americans for something they do exactly the same". I do think the weight differences are statistically significant, see my post above. Given the fuel efficiency posts and other misinformation posted in some comments like e.g. the US being a CO2 net sink I tend to verify and share the actual data (and link to the sources so it can be assessed, helps to catch errors of mine, as well). Ray could have made his case quite efficiently and IMHO stronger, by just comparing the "fett and faul" to the "Babyspeck - Nachwuchs in XXL" in the same magazine focus, which lets German children off with a much gentler treatment, even without doing a "pot kettle black". The article is linked to from the original focus article.
"The idea is to divert your attention" - no, it is not in my case. I just think, that you should not back up your argument with bad data. But hey, I'm just a member of the great cabal of idiots. I'm just out here to mess with your mind, am I not?

n the US, there is stereotyped reporting as well (on the left: Chimpy McBushitler, on the right: Eurabia)

german observer

What you do is the exact same tactic used by tropby on the taz thread. Helian's response says it best:
I get visions of Hermann Goering at his trial flushed with virtuous indignation, as he points out the hypocrisy of the Americans objecting to Auschwitz when, after all, they still have the death penalty, too.

WhatDoIKnow

Bringing up Nazis, usually one has lost the argument. however:

I comprehend your position. But it's wrong. I fully subscribe to the position that the German media landscape is hugely biased. The "Fat and lazy"-slur is totally totally inappropriate and serves to enhance stereotypes. It's a systematic pattern. However, sterotypes - be they applied systematically and widely or to a less severe degree - sell well. The fact that stereotypes are presented in the US media, too, though to a smaller degree, does not relieve the lack of decency and moral decay in the German media a single ounce. It should be noted, however.

I'm largely disgusted by the German media lanscape and basically get my news from weblogs. However, I as excellent as most of the work in this blog is, I find some posts quite childish, to be honest. I understand it, "fight firew with fire" etc., but when I meet a moonbat, I don't shout at him/her, I just calmly present the facts and let them do the shrieking.

Well, all I can say is has anyone seen any Canadians in Florida in the winter? Picture belugas in Speedos.

german observer

It's interesting how you can not bring yourself to condamn the Focus piece without introducing a tiny little mitigating factor - "stereotypes sell". (In this case, and most other cases on DMK, it's not that "stereotypes sell", but rather the fact that *anything* presenting America in a bad light sells, whether it's a stereotype or not).

You can also not condamn German media stereotypes about America without pointing to the stereotypes in the American media (regardless of the fact that the scale of stereotypes usage and the effects they have on the German media consumers have absolutely no equivalent in America).

Probably without you even being aware, your posts have all the marks of rationalizations.

WhatDoIKnow

In this case, and most other cases on DMK, it's not that "stereotypes sell", but rather the fact that *anything* presenting America in a bad light sells, whether it's a stereotype or not

That is true. Nowhere did I state that "stereotypes sell" is the main reason for writing such articles. However, it certainly is part of the explanation for the bile that is often written about the US in the German media. In this sense, i.e. in the sense that Stern et al. pursue the goal of denigrating the US, it obviously is in their interest to distribute their biases against the US far and wide, with stereotypes aiding in the process. In this sense, their strategy is rational - if rationality is defined as choosing an efficient way to reach a goal. This, however, does NOT imply that their GOALS are rational - they are certainly not, rather, they are self-aggrandizing and evil.

You can also not condamn German media stereotypes about America without pointing to the stereotypes in the American media (regardless of the fact that the scale of stereotypes usage and the effects they have on the German media consumers have absolutely no equivalent in America).

Of course I can do that! My point, however, is that stereotypes sell well everywhere on the world. Stereotypes make life simpler and relieve us from actually thinking. They are convenient. The usage of stereotypes in the German and US media is very different, there is no question abou that!

I think it all boils down to the fact that objective reporting is impossible - this however does not imply that reporting standards are equal across countries.

Blue... the new system was introduced into the US through the CDC... but they may have gotten the methodology from WHO.

However, I would like to point out that very few nations actually follow the WHO methods that are given. Please see my post in the other thread where we are discussing infant mortality. I am about to post a reply to your observation of German methods of defining "live birth". My reply to that should be up in about 1/2 hour (it is now 4:49pm EST, US)

Carl... "Well, all I can say is has anyone seen any Canadians in Florida in the winter? Picture belugas in Speedos."

LOL! Yup... I've seen numerous belugas in Speedos splashing around in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico further south of our area (we are not in a "traditional" tourist area, so our sugar-white sand Gulf beaches here are pretty much free of outsiders). When I see them, I generally write them off as "damyankee tourists!" and avoid their hangouts, but you're probably right that many of them are from Canada and elsewhere :).

german observer

Basically, what I said still stands. You can not bring yourself to condamn behavior, which you know to be irresponsible, without pointing to others and saying "look, they do it too (albeit much less)".

WhatDoIKnow

You did not get my point. We'll agree to disagree then.

You did not get my point.

german observer

I got your point (you might think it's nuanced, but it's not). You probably are convinced that you condemn unequivocally the behavior of the German media and that you don't make excuses for them, but when expressing your disapproval you also feel you have to point to somewhat similar behavior of others, which has the effect of mitigating the harshness of your initial condemnation.

which has the effect of mitigating the harshness of your initial condemnation.

No, it doesn't, because there are qualitative differences - that's where we disagree.

I rest my case.

No, it doesn't, because there are qualitative differences

*head shake*

Lame.

I agree with you on "Of course, the headline is racist propaganda, and will remain racist propaganda, regardless of the relative heft of German and American children." However, read Ray's headline "Who's fat? German Hypocrisy by the Kilo". That set IMHO the tone of the post: "Germans deride the Americans for something they do exactly the same". I do think the weight differences are statistically significant, see my post above.

Sorry blue...but, I still somehow think you're missing the point of the post. It may be that Germans are not quite as obese as Americans (becoming evermore debatable?); however, Germans are, in the very least, following in the American footsteps. THAT, to me at least, seems to be the point of the post--the hypocrisy. It's not about a statistical difference. It's about pointing out a trend where one is following the other, and the follower is bitching at the leader the whole way...while threatening to take the lead themselves.

Did that make any sense? I haven't had my coffee yet.

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