The Relativity of Caloric Intake

Bolognesians relaxing at the Piazza Maggiore
Italians are skinny. I have seen maybe two overweight Italians since I arrived in Rome a week and a half ago.

Everywhere you look it’s carbohydrate central: pasta, bread, pizza and pastries. They drink coffee and eat gelato all day with zeal. As the Bolognese natives walk underneath their buff and burly statues, it doesn’t seem that genetics is the reason they are so slim.

I don’t see a majority of Italians sweating off their calories on the street or in gyms. Sure, they walk around a lot, this is a city after all, but I see plenty of overweight New Yorkers in that generally pedestrian city. So, what’s the deal?

Maybe the fact that Italians use locally grown produce, olive oil and almost no preservatives is a large part of it. But, more likely the real reason is that Italians are too busy enjoying their wine, carbs and gelato to be concerned with a negative body image. I have to agree with Italian-American Tina Ferrari, who articulates this point quite well on her blog:

They just don’t care. That’s it! I mean yes, it is a very image-conscious society in Italy – I’ve seen a few anorexics here, especially in the younger college crowd, but the women I have come to be friends with in the Tango community are women who enjoy life, who enjoy food, who enjoy dancing, and who live because life is good.

Italians are also occupied communicating with each other and taking pleasure in others’ companionship. They give themselves the opportunity to decompress, reflect and apparently burn more calories than the rest of us.

-Kim Bell


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