Contributed by Barry Y.

The United States has a health problem. At the moment, 35% of Americans are obese. Children age 6-18 have an obesity rate of 15-25%. There are many theories about the source of this obesity trend—ranging from our addiction to fast food to an obsession with sedentary activities like video games. But, since other industrialized countries have many of the same vices without the same obesity rate, maybe there are some cultural influences that affect obesity as well. Let’s take a look.

Commuting. In America, we pile into our cars for most trips. But other cultures in places such as China, Thailand and Denmark, bicycles are the most common means of commuting. Now, if you have an hour-long car ride, bicycling may not be the best option; but local trips around your neighborhood might be a starting point.

Snacks. Americans typically nosh on treats of cookies, brownies and ice cream—all of which are loaded with extra sugar, have no nutritional value and we often end up overdoing it. Other cultures encourage fruit and vegetables as snacks for both kids and adults.

Recess. Recess was cut out of school budgets as a way to save money. As a result, most American children no longer exercise in school. But, in other countries, like Denmark, children get as much outdoor time as classroom time.

Free Fitness. In China, there are lots of options for free public fitness. There is exercise equipment at parks and fitness trails. There are also group exercise options such as choreographed dances in public spaces.

In what ways does your culture promote a healthy lifestyle? We invite you to share your ideas in the comment box below.