Which nation consumes on average the most calories per day per person? The first guess will most likely be the U.S., known for fast food, large portions, and unfortunately obesity. And the guess is not far off as U.S. Americans have consumed on average 3,733 calories per person per day from 2004 till 2013 according to a study. So who eats more? Austrians!
Austrians consume on average 3,769 calories, and based on how much we love deserts, beer, and fat, I was not completely surprised. Germans are only in 8th place. Even though Austrians consume more calories, the obesity rate is lower than in the U.S. According to the study, Belgians consume on average the same amount of calories as U.S. Americans, but only every tenth person is considered overweight in Belgium while in the U.S. every third person is. The difference is linked to the quality and price of food in the article and study. The higher the cost and quality of food, the lower the obesity rate even if the amount of calories is the same.
The article reminded me of how much I love and miss Austrian cuisine and how much food is part of the culture and tradition. I like that it is normal to have a mid-morning snack (often also with beer) and an afternoon coffee and cake break in addition to the regular three meals a day. Many of the dishes call for heavy cream and butter, and every cook knows that a reduced-fat version of the dish will not taste the same. I was surprised when I moved here by how few people ate butter and that a completely fat-free milk version existed, which in my opinion is no longer milk but white water. In contrast, I grew up with the idea to avoid margarine, that milk that is “drinkable” is whole milk, and that lard is a perfectly good (albeit rich) bread spread.
Many of the dishes are mostly carbs and fat since plenty of main dishes are a version of sweet dumplings or something along these lines. A Bauernkrapfen, a version of a donut, comes in at 45g of carbs, 22g of fat, and overall 421 calories for example. Thinking about the calories and eating habits of Austrians led to reminiscing about all the Austrian dishes that I would love to eat right now, but I had to stop making my list; it became just too long.