GE Doublewide Monogram Refriderator

The Obesity Appliance

Gawker has uncovered the American obesity appliance for us this week: our super-sized refrigerators. It turns out that Americans have the biggest refrigerators in the world — approximately 22 cubic feet on average.

Midnight SnackBy comparison, refrigerators in Europe are less than half the size of ours, measuring up to only an average of about 10 cubic feet. Germany might have the World Cup in soccer, but we have our doublewide fridges. Ha!

The trouble is that all that extra food storage capacity — putting more food at our fingertips — seems to lead to more food consumption, as well as more food waste. Those doublewide fridges support our warehouse club shopping habits. Brian Wansink documents a link between those habits and a higher food consumption in his classic tome, Mindless Eating.

Whether this doublewide obesity appliance represent a cause, effect, or just a symbiotic companion to obesity hardly matters. We would be better off without its cavernous storage. The costs for our supersized refrigerators add up. The extra electricity is roughly an extra hundred dollars each year. The purchase price is easily another thousand. And incremental food waste is costly as well.

Worst of all, the payoff is is an ample supply of food growing stale, even if it is refrigerated.

“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” — Hippocrates

Click here to read more in Gawker and here to read more from CNBC.

GE Monogram Doublewide Refrigerator, photograph courtesy of General Electric

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6 Responses to “The Obesity Appliance”

  1. July 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm, Rose A. said:

    Dear Ted,
    please apologize, if my reaction now is very emotional!
    I just cannot help!
    I do not want to hurt anyone personally, and I know and appreciate many Americans personally, however, reading this, I get the feeling: as a population, the Americans are sooo tremendously sick!
    They have lost every sense for natural proportions, for natural dimensions.
    They are not only going to ruin themselvse, but to ruin our whole planet!

    Your citation:
    “Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” – Hippocrates

    This helps a little bit, but I am afraid, the Americans are too far away from it.

    Yours Rose

    • July 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm, Ted said:

      Rose, you need not apologize. When some, or even many, lose perspective, that does not mean that all have lost perspective. At the same time that some people are choosing to “live large,” others are following a more minimalist path.

      Almost everyone has moments of excess. Some more visibly than others.


  2. July 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm, Rose A. said:

    Thanks, Ted,
    for Your qualified answer!
    It has helped to calm down.
    Howerver, it does not change the fact, that Americans use up all the resources and energy of the planet!
    An excess of, lets say, an African, is still of other dimensions than the overall “daily” American excess!

    • July 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm, Ted said:

      The lapses in our caring for our planet are indeed distressing.

  3. August 06, 2014 at 7:17 am, julie said:

    I would have to venture that there are worse. We could, like Japan, wrap everything in plastic. Countries like Qatar are wealthier, waste much more. I think the US problem may be extreme driving and convenience, and most of what is in those big freezers will not go bad, as it is highly processed. I had a friend growing up, parents went shopping once/month. All produce would be devoured in first week, and the rest was cheese and meat and other stuff.

    • August 06, 2014 at 8:18 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for sharing a broad perspective, Julie.