Breaking news: Speaking English kills you dead

The follow sage advice was forwarded to me earlier this week:

“The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans. On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. It’s speaking English that kills you.”

Where did this idle piece of Dilbert-caliber cubicle wisdom originate? Why it was Sergio Pizziconi at the Italian Ministry of Public Education of course! Speculation about whether or not composing clever email forwards is an appropriate use of Italian Ministry time aside, Mr. Pizziconi has tweaked a subject that has long vexed me; that being why the hell are we English speakers so damn fat and sick all the time? It’s not just America and the UK… Just this week I read that Australia has had to start ordering extra-wide ambulances to accommodate their increasingly giant asses.

Oh I know this can all be satisfactorily explained away with subjects like not enough exercise, crappy diets and ludicrous over-use of medication, but most other developed countries in the world have similar problems and they’re all living to be 110, so why not us?

Examples:

• The average Italian or Spaniard won’t walk more than 200 meters in one go (mostly because they’re all wearing shoes that used to be employed as torture gear in feudal China).
• Considering their cholesterol-infused diets, Eastern Europeans should be dropping dead by the thousands.
• And, sweet Buddha, the smoking going on in most places should be snuffing out whole cities (I’m quite certain that 18 months in Romania took about 10 years off the longevity of my lungs).

So what’s really going on here? Why are English speakers so delicate while the rest of the world is so resilient?

And don’t tell me it has anything to do with the wrath of God. That’s a given.

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