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It’s no secret that global obesity is on the rise. Since 1975, obesity has nearly tripled worldwide. And, as we know from the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36.5 percent of Americans (or 1 in 3 adults) are considered obese. But why exactly is that number so much lower in European countries like Switzerland, where just nine percent of the population is obese? To get some potential answers, I immersed myself in Swiss culture. Literally. I live here now. And, lo and behold, some fascinating health trends emerged. Spoiler alert: They eat cheese and bread and drink wine too.

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1. They eat real food.

No “light, sugar-free, etc…” items on the menus or in the markets. Yep, no fake fillers out here. The focus of meals is on real, whole foods. While they do use butter, oil, and seasonings, the majority of the flavor comes from fresh herbs, seasonal produce, and cheese.

2. Dining is a social gathering experience with mindfulness at its center.

Friends gather and sit around the table for hours. Waiters are in no rush (so please, remember that when dining here). There aren’t two patties to a burger or a pound of cheese on pizzas. While most people do tend to order and occasionally finish a 12-inch pizza on their own, it’s a crispy, flat crust that is loaded with flavor from fresh veggies, sparse amounts of cheese, and even the occasional preserved meat (like prosciutto). People use a fork and knife and cherish the eating experience, without shoveling bite after bite into their mouths.

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