Will the U.S. Fast Food’s invasion of China rival the damage of the Opium Wars?

June 25, 2014

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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America’s Gift to China – the Curse of the Middle Class Bulge

March 3, 2011

The Atom Stack Tribune reports McDonalds is facing stiff competition in China. Today, McDonalds has more than 2100 outlets in 450 cities and towns across China.

KFC has three times as many stores serving artery clogging fried chicken, while Coca Cola reported a 26% increase in sales in China of its sodas making up for reduced sales in the US.

At the end of 2010, Starbucks reported more than 750 Starbucks locations in Greater China.

Pizza Hut food is expensive in China when compared to Chinese restaurants, which explains why Pizza Hut focuses on China’s middle class.  Pizza Hut started doing business in China in 1987. Today it operates 3,000 restaurants in 650 cities and towns.

What has been the result of all this American fast food in China?

In 1979, less than one percent of China’s population was diagnosed as diabetic. Since that time, the increase of diabetes has paralleled China’s development along with the growth of American fast food outlets in China.

A recently published study reported that the proportion of diabetics in China was nearly equal to the United States, which is almost nine percent of the adult population.

In addition, the growth of reported cases in China is growing at about 1.5 million annually on average.

The increase in diabetes in China is due to increasing obesity, lack of exercise and to poor eating habits.

Dr. Liu Hongfang of Dongzhimen Hospital in Beijing says the situation is only going to get worse as living standards improve and more people can afford to eat high-fat foods more often.

As a result, the number of diabetics will keep increasing.

The World Health Organization estimated that in the period lasting from 2006 to 2015, China would lose 558 billion dollars in national income due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes combined.

Thanks to government reforms in health care in 2009, more than 1.2 billion people now have some form of basic medical insurance. However, this health coverage is often minimal and diabetes costs more than the health care covers.

Discover China’s Health Care Today


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Exporting Western Romance to China

December 8, 2010

When Tom Carter’s guest post arrived about Harlequin Romance Invades China, my first thought was China is doomed.

First, American fast food arrived and now China is having a weight problem leading to poor health and the explosion of China’s Fat Camps

Then there is America’s car culture, which is catching on fast in a country that doesn’t have the strict environmental pollution laws that exist in the US and rural China is choked with smog.

Now, I learn that romance American style arrived in China as another blow to China’s ability to survive as a civilization. Weren’t the 19th century Opium Wars bad enough?

Eating fast food that destroys bodies, smoking cigarettes, reading Harlequin Romances and driving carbon-spewing cars cannot be a good thing. 

Is this how “democracy” is going to make life better for the Chinese?

Since Harlequin romance novels flew into China on collagen-filled lips, attitudes toward love have changed.

“According to Enjoy Reading Era, a Beijing-based cultural company specializing in publishing romantic novels, 1,500 love stories by writers in the mainland were published last year, an all-time high. The company exported 50 romance novels to Hong Kong and Taiwan, while it only imported three novels from Taiwan.” Source: Show China.org

Reading romance novels may explain the increase in the divorce rate in China and the high divorce rate in the US. After all, how can any real man compare to the ink and paper men on the pages of a Harlequin romance?

However, I may be wrong about what the West has exported to China. Thanks to Romance novels, China may no longer need the one-child policy since all those wheezing, unhealthy fat people driving cars instead of riding bicycles or walking will be reading trashy romance novels instead of making love.

This may end China’s population challenge.

In fact, GM and Ford are making huge profits in China as is McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks. Even Hooters is in China along with Wal-Mart.

Think of the profits these American corporations are earning to help make the rich richer.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.