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Many Americans like to say their nation is fat in the middle and thin around the edges.

The US is a certainly a country of extremes and personal health is most definitely one of them. International students are frequently shocked by the sheer volume of food people consume in the US. No one goes to the movies without buying a bucket of drink and a barrel of popcorn, and even the nicer restaurants will slap half a cow on your plate and call it a steak.

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While obesity is a humungous problem in Middle America, college students normally need only worry about the dreaded ‘freshman fifteen’ (the fifteen pounds – one stone plus – all students are rumoured to gain in their first year).

Once your mind and stomach have grown accustomed to the size of your plate, you will notice something else - American students are obsessed with working out. It rivals only their dating rituals for most baffling personality trait.

While students also play all the sports English universities do, they continue to regard the gym as a sort of second home. Jogging to them is like oxygen. You may well become sucked into this lifestyle - in fact, it may become your penance for the size of your meals.

But be warned, if you are one of the brave souls who manages to withstand the onslaught of comments about your lack of gym attendance, you will be marked down as slightly unnatural. After all, doesn't everyone want to run eight miles a day?

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