Letter from Prague

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Have you ever been on a slimming diet? I have, many times, and sometimes my efforts were successful. As I'm growing older, I stopped caring too much. I'm not obese, but I weigh much more than I did 20 years ago. The most obese nations in Europe are surprisingly those living in former Yugoslavia, while the least obese are Swiss. The Czech Republic is fourth, behind Yugoslavia, Greece and Romania. After the fall of Communism, Czechs started to put on the kilos faster than ever before...

Have you ever been on a slimming diet? I have, many times, and sometimes my efforts were successful. As I'm growing older, I stopped caring too much. I'm not obese, but I weigh much more than I did 20 years ago. The most obese nations in Europe are surprisingly those living in former Yugoslavia, while the least obese are Swiss. The Czech Republic is fourth, behind Yugoslavia, Greece and Romania. After the fall of Communism, Czechs started to put on the kilos faster than ever before. One would say that this is thanks to Czech eating habits - dumplings, pork and little vegetables. But it's not the main reason: since 1989, the Czech market has been flooded with fruit and vegetables, there is enough fish and poultry, which are said to be more healthy than 'red meat'. Obesity experts say that this is due to the lack of movement - people use cars, lifts and escalators more often, they sit by their computers the whole day, when watching TV they use the remote control. But in the Czech Republic there's also a difference between large cities and the countryside: people who live in villages still stick to their old habits and prefer eating fatty meat and fatty salamis. It's quite understandable, because many of them breed their own pigs. Slaughtering the pig and the big banquet that usually follows are true eating orgies, and people adore them.

Statistics say that between 40 and 80 percent of the Czech adult population have tried to lose weight, and it's mostly women who try the hardest - 90 percent have tried a slimming diet at least once in a lifetime. But maybe they have a good reason for it - Czech women are said to be among the fattest in Europe. There are more fat women than men in the Czech Republic, but their type of obesity is - so to speak - healthier than that of men. Women are usually fat in the shape of an apple - that is fat hips, buttocks and thighs, while men are more like pears - a lot of fat inside the abdomen, which is a dangerous factor for such diseases as diabetes, intestinal cancer and high blood pressure.

Even though there are courses on how to lose weight, the majority of Czechs prefer trying at home. It's a well known fact that fast diets simply do not work, and that doctors recommend losing one kilogramme per week. One doesn't have to be on a strict diet to achieve this.

Well, the time of swimsuits is here, so let's start loosing weight! But if your holiday destination is the Czech Republic, forget about the resolutions you've made in this respect! Czech beer and dumplings with pork is a must here - and many other delightful meals - and eating them will not only make you forget about a diet, but ask for a recipe to be able to enjoy them at home again!