I just came across a fascinating New York Times article from last May. Written by Catherine Rampell, it refers to a report entitled "Society at a Glance" by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This report offers an overview of social and policy trends in the 30 member countries.
One of the trends tracked is how much time people in these countries spend eating and drinking. The French are at the high end, with nearly 140 minutes devoted to the table each day. Countries on the low end include Mexico, Canada, and--yep!--the USA. Americans rank third from the bottom with about 75 minutes per day spent on eating/drinking.
Rampbell plotted out the relationship between the time an average person in a given country spends eating and that country's obesity rate (measured by the percentage of the national population with a body mass index higher than 30). As you can see from the chart, Americans rank at the top, with nearly 35% of the population having a 30+ BMI. Korea and Japan, with less than 5% of the population reaching those BMI levels, ranked at the bottom.
Looking at this chart, it's difficult to deny the connection between eating speed--i.e., fast food--and obesity.
Viva slow food!