When it comes to bulking up on junk food, there are two nations that stand head and shoulders above the rest: Scotland and the USA.
Infamous by reason of their unhealthy diets – they’re paying the price with high levels of obesity, heart disease and some forms of cancer. But how do they compare with each other? Which nation is the unhealthiest?
Here we put them belly to belly. It’s the clash of the titans; a calorie horror dual.
Never mind being a superpower, it’s the American ‘super girth’ that’s a cause for concern. In 2011, the average American consumed nearly one ton of food:
Food, Weight consumed (lbs), Comments, Good or bad
Dairy, 632, 31.4 of this is cheese, Bad
Vegetables, 415.4, Most popular choices were corn and potatoes – 29lbs was french fries, Bad
Fruit, 273, Mostly apples and oranges, Good
Meat, 183.6, Mostly chicken or beef, Bad
Sweeteners, 141.6, 53 gallons of soda, Very bad
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Live in Scotland? Succumb to the eating habits of the natives – and you may well die young.
Food, Comment, Good or bad
Fruit and veg, 80% the proportion of the adult population do not eat enough, Bad
Sugary snacks, 28% the proportion of adults consuming snacks daily, Bad
Oily fish, 29% the proportion of adults consuming oily fish once a week or more, Bad
Red meat, 56% the proportion of adults consuming 2 + portions of red meat per week, Bad
Chips, 31% the proportion of adults eating chips two or more times per week, Very Bad
Source: The Scottish Government
Although not comparing like with like, on the basis of the evidence gathered, you’d have to say the Scottish fear of vegetable matter, though appalling, is no match for the sheer quantity of soda consumed by Americans. When you consider that the majority of fizzy drinks in the USA are sweetened with corn syrup – that’s just another reason to give round one to the yanks.
Most fatty snacks
USA: Battered butter
The Iowa state fair is famous for its life size sculpture of a cow – in butter. Since 1911, the greasy artwork has presided over proceedings – each year a new cow lovingly crafted from mounds of butter. But now, the Iowans have taken things even further. The state delicacy is now available on a stick, coated in batter and deep fried. It’s served with a honey glaze and a defibrillator.
Scotland: Deep fried Pizza
Order pizza in a Scottish chippy and your friendly frier will retrieve a frozen supermarket pizza from the freezer, and chuck it in the fat frier. If you opt for a pizza ‘crunch’, he’ll dunk it in batter first. Those who have tried both say the battered version is actually less fatty because the base doesn’t soak up so much grease. Either way it’s best to book yourself in for heart surgery before tucking into one.
Round two to the USA – nothing can beat the revulsion of watching someone eat a slab of butter.
Scotland: Battered Mars Bar
It’s a well known Scottish favourite and beloved of school children North of the border, a Mars bar dipped in batter and deep fried, contains an estimated 1000 – 1200 calories – much of this coming from the fat absorbed by the batter during frying. We don’t know how many years each bar lops from your life expectancy, but if you want to live to old age perhaps it’s best to avoid them altogether.
USA: Chocolate coated bacon
Streaky bacon coated in dark or milk chocolate is a state fair staple, but in 2004, a graduate of the New England Institute of Technology invented the world’s first chocolate coating machine for bacon. This dubious achievement has prompted a surge of interest in the snack, with gourmands adding crushed sea salt or crumbled almonds to create an interesting if unusual confection.
Round three to Scotland. Chocolate coated bacon may actually be nice.
USA: The Po’ boy
This traditional New Orleans favorite got its name from the 1929 streetcar workers’ strike. Owners of a local diner, Benny and Clovis Martin used to work for the company. They supported their former colleagues in their action by feeding them sandwiches. These became known as ‘poor boys’, which was shortened to ‘po’boy’. The combination of french bread, meat, catfish, sausage or fried shrimp is, if not entirely healthy – not bad compared to battered butter.
Traditional Burn’s night favourite, haggis served with neeps and tatties is nothing if not stodge. Great for those dark winter’s nights, the 218 calories per 100g are more than enough to keep the cold at bay. A sheep’ pluck – heart lungs and liver minced and mixed with oats and onions and boiled in a bag – traditionally stomach – but more usually synthetic. No, it’s not the most healthy food on the planet, but it’d certainly do in an emergency. And despite the grisly ingredients, haggis is delicious.
It’s a draw.
Late night munchies
The McDonald’s Big Mac is as much a symbol of the beating heart of America, as the stars and stripes or the Statue of Liberty. But is it also a symbol of blocked arteries and high blood pressure? In America, a single Big Mac contains 550 calories, of which 29 g is fat and 970 mg salt . Add medium fries at 380 calories, 19 g of fat and 270 mg salt. Wash it all down with a medium Coke – 200 calories of corn syrup. Take yourself to the Emergency Room.
Scotland: Munchie box
As bad as the all American burger is, at least you know what you’re getting. Order a munchie box and you take pot luck. What is it? A pizza box rammed full with whatever your local kebab house has lying around. Donner meat, chips, fried chicken, pakora, you name it – North of the border the munchie box is a post-pub favorite. Ignoring any token lettuce, this dish is less a ‘culinary’ masterpiece than a ‘coronary’ one. We suggest you bypass it.
Scotland wins this one – a munchie box is pure filth.
So who wins?
You could say it’s a dead heat – literally. The moral of the story is, if you want to bulk up – do it the healthy way. A healthy, nutritious diet, quality weight gain supplements and plenty of gym time. Enough said.