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Study Abroad : The unexpected gains

【明報專訊】Rather unsurprisingly, one of the first few major changes I noticed after going to the UK was weight gain. I was already on the chubby side but I gained a further seven or eight kilograms under the calorie-dense English diet. On an unhealthy day, I would start the day with pains au chocolat (similar to a croissant filled with chocolate), cinnamon swirls, pastries or hash browns. At break, we would go to the shops to buy cookies, crisps ("potato chips") or chocolate doughnuts. Then we would have lunch followed by a pudding ("dessert"), afternoon tea such as cupcakes or brownies, then supper. That's practically five meals a day! With eating habits like this, it is no wonder that obesity is such a serious problem in the UK, putting an enormous strain on the NHS (National Health Service), costing it £47 billion (HK$480bn) each year. If you go shopping in the UK, you'd quite often see "plus sizes" designed for larger customers. However, this is clearly a generalisation; you can still maintain a healthy diet in the UK, but personally I found it very difficult to resist the temptation with so much food put in front of me when I first arrived.

What makes the food so fattening is the mind-boggling amount of sugar in it. Sometimes, it is so sickly sweet that I wonder whether I am eating a solid block of sugar, which disintegrates into a sticky slop as I reluctantly swallow it down my aching throat. The English are also known to drown their food in cheese and butter. Heavenly and rich though it may be, those extra inches around your waist are bound to ensue.

Nonetheless, most of my peers are actually quite thin, probably thanks to their naturally fast metabolism when they are young, to my great annoyance.

■Writer's Profile

Alice Sze is 17 and has been boarding in the UK for four years. She loves languages. Apart from Chinese and English, she studies Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese, Latin and Ancient Greek.

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