Jordanians are fat-eating, smoking couch potatoes..

..and that why heart diseases kill 42% of them. That’s what Jordan’s Health Minister Saad Kharabsheh said in a medical conference [Arabic link] yesterday.

The interesting question for me is: how did we, as a society, develop the culture of over-eating fatty foods, heavy smoking and lack of movement? Why does every restaurant need a valet parking service? Why did we turn Amman into a car city?

And how did our kitchen become so fatty?

Any ideas?


14 Responses to “Jordanians are fat-eating, smoking couch potatoes..”

  1. Bilal Says:

    We refuse whatsoever to park in any place other than in front of the restaurant or Supermarket we are heading to..We draw an invisible line between the center of the car and the center of the restaurant and there we park!!..
    No, we can’t park 30 meters away, no way. We can’t walk for 1 minute; it will damage our social image..
    I am hearing shocking stories these days, getting a heart attack at the age of 30 is really something amazing..
    I think the coming days will be worse coz many of the bad things we do, we only started doing them maybe 10 years ago such as Mobiles, a lot of radiation, spending time in front of Satellite channels, using cars extensively.

  2. Mazz Says:

    i blame it on the radio.

  3. kinzi Says:

    A combination of Western diet, long pinkie finger nail disdain for physical work and ‘nasiib’ mentality. How’s that?

  4. jameed Says:

    It is called “Nutrition Transition” and it is a direct effect of Westernization/Globalization. I know someone who can tell you all about it but here is one of the latest research articles about the subject which has been documents not only in jordan but elsewhere in japan, the philippines, etc.

    http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1368980007666713

  5. Qwaider قويدر Says:

    Jordanian Kitchen has ALWAYS been fatty. But the difference is that people used to move around. Walk and do hard labour. But now, with air-conditioned cars, offices …etc people automatically enjoy it and become a little lazy, which becomes more lazy with time, and consumerism settles in and we start eating all sort of junk

    Anyway, I think there is still hope for everyone… Lets not become another …. Texas sans the oil

  6. Dave Says:

    I’m about to wax into my architect mode…a remnant of a past life. Here goes. Studies have shown that increases in urban sprawl tend to reflect itself in the weight of a city’s citizens. If a person cannot reach a destination by walking in 15 minutes or less, that person most likely will choose an alternate (read mobile) form of transportation.

    Now, when was the last time you could reach any of your destinations on foot in less than 15 minutes? That might answer the questions concerning lack of movement and why Amman has turned into a car city overnight.

  7. Mariam Ayyash Says:

    well lets start with our big sponsored malls!
    see the idea is not as partial as you are trying to articulate it, there is a whole culture behind potato couches, high consumption and turning a society into a consuming one takes efforts, and it pays (relativly)

    first they indulge u with a nice closed mall with all the things that you NEED, but on ur way in, they show you a nice poster of a man holding a basket to carry their stuff, and another of a woman giving her babies something to keep them quiet, and another of some cream to protect u from the sun outside, and another of a wallet to hold ur money (this is a miniature setup) eventually u turn into a consuming person who buys all this stuff thinking that u need it…

    industry in jordan is unfortunately following in the steps of the american economy, which says: if it makes money, its good business, so fast food chains are all good business, but from an ethical point of view they are not, because the added material in these junk food packages are addictive, and some of them are harmful, they just regenerate demand… and we end up buying cars to “drivethru” our favorite “king size” burger and drive home “safely” but if we stop to think a bit about it, i can buy a sack of za3tar that keeps me happy and healthy for a whole month!

    but we dont think this simple, because in our thrust towards enhacing the quality of our lives we forget to first identify those things that make a good quality life, like: i want to build a beautiful spacious house, so i hire a graphic designer!

  8. Mohanned Says:

    Ahmad,
    The 42% are dying mn el gaher:D

  9. Dave Says:

    Also note that there are very few recreational facilities or opportunities in Amman. I just don’t see many Jordanians on an exercise kick. When I jog in the evenings, the only other people I see out exercising is foreigners.

  10. Khalidah Says:

    I blame it on the media and mind programming …

    Humans are consumers in nature and who doesn’t like to pamper themselves? It is in our nature as humans, so in my opinion; it is not about the changes in the materials or locations, it is the availability now against the lack of some 15 years ago ..

    Then; it was not as easy to buy a car as now and less women actually drove and worked … so somehow; it is our way of coping and keeping us with the change around us …

    For me; it is easier to use valet parking instead of spending 15 minutes looking for one because the city has become so full of cars from every shape, brand and color … it saves me time to go buy my things from a mall or a super store rather than separate locations … I work long hours so time is the major factor here

    As for Jordanians eating more fat and smoking more tobacco … I say: knowledge is power and that’s exactly what the media should be doing .. encourage healthy lifestyles and more affordable and more convenient gym solutions for the majority of the people … maybe when people would stop making fun of someone jogging in the street or just staring at the group of women walking down the road, we as Jordanians would start on the right path of a healthier life …

    So blame it on the media and the culture of shame and fear but that’s my own point of view :)

  11. Vas Says:

    it is more than a coincidence i presume. it is the collapse of a whole cultural system as expressed through food, physical activity and shape: “Man ist was er isst” (each human being is what he/she eats) Germans say… What is “cool” is the tragedy of Jordan. Junk food became cool, fancy cars alike, highways with no pavements or secure pedestrian crossings are cool, urban appearances are cool. The only thing that is less cool (and is kept in shadow) is the I.C.U. during a heart attack episode.

  12. Saad Darwazeh Says:

    My favorite topic Ahmad, I can only think of one solution:
    Come cycling with us!

    Yes, I think that food takes a good chunk of our thought, pokets and culture. Imagine dropping to see a friend and refusing to eat whet they offer you: Shame! You have to … you simply have to and they start stuffing you until you hate yourself!

    Restaurants : Sure, there will soon be a day when you can actually drive your car inside a restaurant and park next to the table… cant cater for Hummers though!

    And this Argeeleh culture: walk into any coffee shop for a simple cup of coffee/tea/chat and you will walk through one thick cloud that will surely give you severe sinus problems for the rest of your life if not lung cancer… How did this culture develop?

    Obesity, smoking and this super lazy life-styles comes to us from the west and becasue we have no interests, no motives and simply no energy. We are strictly CONSUMERS

  13. Khawaja M. Says:

    It is the delicious food that our wives cook at home … yummmmmmm :)

  14. Mariam Ayyash Says:

    I have few suggestions, i hope i can generate enough enthusiasm, but i am going to blog about these suggestions this thursday or two weeks later inshalla (i usually blog every other thursday) in summary, i want to find ways to “move our asses” without needing to go to the damn gym, eat healthy without thinking of time wasted in preparation, and have the courage to disgard every habit without breaking our souls with it :s

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