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Observations on the US

This summer was my first opportunity to visit the US. I had never stepped foot in the States and I think it was fair enough to say that I had some preconceived notions about this new place I was about to step foot in though I'm not 100% sure what they were. This post is my ramblings on what I found out about the country. Some of the things I simply found unusual, other things I appreciated, others I loathed. It is no way meant to be taken as a political commentary but I understand the the nature of the post may make it appear to be so.

1. Weight - Lets tackle this issue head on. It is no secret to the world that most of the US population is overweight - in fact the figures show that around 2/3 of people are overweight, obese or morbidly obese. In the UK it is half that number (which is already worrying). Maybe it's because I was working at Disney where the people do a lot of physical exercise - both cast members and guests - but I wouldn't say that people seemed to be particularly overweight on the most part - it definitely didn't seem like 2 in 3 people to me.

However, I did see some people of a size that I previously thought was not possible. In fact this summer whilst I was working the American Medical Associated voted to classify obesity as a disease. Disgusting.

Here are a few solutions on how to solve the obesity epidemic as observed by myself and many others I worked with:
  • If you are fat, you do not need a mobility scooter - walking is exercise and will do you good.
  • You do not need a car for everywhere you go. Yes, America is "the land of the free" and so most people feel they are entitled to drive wherever they want. But a 2-minute trip does not need a car, and yes I knew people who made them. Also public transport exists - use it.
  • Drink sizes need to be reduced - This isn't related to alcohol, but soft drinks. Everywhere I went provided unlimited refills which is great value to some extent but there were drink sizes that were about as big a protein tub?! There were drink cups that had a drink cup built into them to stop them collapsing under their own weight. That's simply wrong. The size of a small US drink is the size of a large here in the UK. The large drink is 32 oz or 946ml! How does anyone think that is an acceptable amount of fizzy drink to put inside themselves worries me.
  • Vitamins - Some sort of regulation needs to be introduced. I saw hugely unhealthy food and drink being marketed with the words "vitamins" on the front in a huge text size because as well as all the crap in them, manufacturers had managed to artificially add six different vitamins. They should not be allowed to make it appear that there could be any sort of health benefits to their products when there really aren't.
  • Healthcare - Although this is a different debate altogether, free healthcare for everyone would mean that doctors could council people on how to live a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
2. Sense of national pride - Last summer when we hosted the Olympics, the whole of the UK banded together to create a country so united you wouldn't believe. This is how, in my experience at least, it always is in America - people are proud to say they're American, abandoning their past to claim their newfound nationality. I can't say it's the same here. But it's admirable. American flags everywhere, however, are not necessary.

3. Turn right on red - This makes no sense. So, you're a pedestrian - the traffic lights for you go from "red" to "white" and you start to cross. You wonder, why is the traffic light not green? Because there is no green option. Because there is never a moment where you can cross in America and guarantee that you will not be run over.

When a  traffic light is red in America and white for pedestrians, as a driver you can turn right, DESPITE THE FACT THE LIGHT IS RED - I repeat 'RED'. This involves usually going over 2 pedestrian crossings whilst the pedestrians take their chance to cross. Although pedestrians have priority, through my experience not all drivers stop. And you wonder why people don't walk to places in the States.

4. Racism - I have never seen as much racism in a country that prides itself on inclusivity as in America. No more needs to be said. Just Google the controversy about Barack Obama. The exception I found was with younger people who seem to have grown up in a society where people from all around the world live together - these people seem to ignore race, much like most people do in the UK.

5. The TV is a joke - I could never sit and watch US TV - and we had cable in our apartments in Florida. When there is a show on there's a 95% chance it's a reality TV show, when that's not on you can flick through the incredibly biased and right-wing news channels such as FOX news, or why not sit and enjoy the 22 minutes of ads every hour. There's almost nothing remotely engaging or educational on TV. A lot of potential is being missed.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

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