I remember one night when we ate in a small Shanghai restaurant and at the next table, this overweight kid, maybe ten, said in a shrill voice, “I hate vegetables. Where’s the meat. I demand more meat.” Then he pounded the table with both fists while his face screwed up in a rage. His mother had an embarrassed look on her face but didn’t say a word.
The Opium Wars in the 19th century forced China to open its doors to foreign drug dealers (English, French, American, etc.).
But China has welcomed U.S. fast food with open arms leading to China’s obesity invasion. In 2005, it was predicted that 200 million Chinese would be obese within 10 years. With one year to go, China Daily.com reported that a survey of more than 43,000 adults found that more than 11 percent age 20 to 39 are obese, an increase of two percent since the last survey in 2010.
Now, 11% doesn’t sound like much but there are more than 1.36 billion Chinese and 11% equals 140.6 million. In 2006, NBCNews.com reported that number was 60 million, and according to the World Health Organization rates of obesity are below 5% in rural China but greater than 20% in areas of urban China were the fast food culture has conquered taste buds.
- McDonalds has more than 1,800+ locations in China.
- KFC has more than 4,563 in 900+ cities.
- Pizza Hut with more than 1,000 in 300+ cities.
- Starbucks has more than 1,000 stores, and China is its second largest market outside of the United States with plans to have 1,500 stores in more than 50 cities by the end of 2015.
China’s bulging middle class has fallen in love with the Western fast food diet and couch potato lifestyle.
Those hit worst with the expanding waistline are the pampered single-child generation. A 2012 study in Obesity Reviews Journal compared the risk of chronic disease in China to other countries, including the U.S. The researchers found that approximately 12 percent of Chinese children and adolescents aged seven to 18 were overweight and about 1.7 million children under 18 suffered from diabetes. Additionally, the rate of diabetes among Chinese adolescents aged 12 to 18 was about four times that of American teenagers.
It doesn’t help that in the Chinese culture fat children are seen as healthy, and this might also be contributing to China’s love affair with U.S. fast food and the alarming growth rate of obesity.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.
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