Italy Families Becoming the Simpsons, Experts Warn
Fri Oct 4, 1:34 PM ET
By Rossella Lorenzi

FLORENCE (Reuters Health) - Traditional Italian families are turning into a nation of "Simpsons" clones, abandoning mamma's pasta for the sort of habits favored by America's most dysfunctional cartoon family, according to experts gathering near Florence this weekend in a desperate effort to reverse the trend.



Parents Homer and Marge and children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie from the cult American series have become real-life role models for Italians, say Dr. Loris Moroni and colleagues. The trend is so widespread that linguists, nutritionists, psychologists and sociologists have set up a "City of Simpsons" conference to look at similarities.

"We are more and more similar to the Simpsons ( news - Y! TV). We are putting aside the best aspects of Italian traditions and culture to turn into a country of under-educated, cynical, snack-munching couch potatoes," Moroni, director of Empoli's operational unit of health education, told Reuters Health.

Just like the Simpsons, Italian families watch a lot of TV, talk too much on their cellular phones and eat badly at any time of the day, Moroni said.

Indeed, a survey by the national statistics bureau Istat last month revealed that one in four of Italy's 58 million citizens leads a sedentary life, while 16 million are overweight and 4 million are obese.

"We do a lot of talking about the Mediterranean diet, but hamburgers, French fries and other sticky snacks are dominating Italian tables. We know that junk food is bad for health, but just like the Simpsons we ignore the rules. Homer knows that it's unhealthy to drink too much beer, but he drinks it all the time. His wife Marge is a good cook, she knows that she should prepare lighter foods, nevertheless fast food triumphs," Moroni said.

Homer is providing inspiration for idle dads throughout the country and obnoxious, spiky-haired Bart is the idol of Italian teenagers, Professor Enzo Linari, the conference curator, said.

"It is quite alarming. Though we should also consider that the Simpsons, with all their defects, still provide some family values. In the best family tradition, they love one another," Linari told Reuters Health.

The Simpsons business is flourishing in Italy. Between 1998 and 2001, more than 70 million euros worth of Simpsons merchandising has been sold, according to the conference organizers. The figure includes 15 million euros in cookies, snacks, sweets, and hamburgers inspired by the cartoon anti-heroes.

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