Monday, August 21, 2006

I Could Have Told You That

A recent study done in Beijing is suggesting that nearly 20% of people in China are overweight or obese. I don't know about the rest of China, but when it comes to the S.A.R. (Hong Kong), why am I not surprised? Some things to consider:

-McDonalds is prolific in China (and especially in Hong Kong). I actually witnessed some of my students (and a few of my colleagues) eating there an alarming 3 times a day, and of course one of their shops was conveniently located directly across from our school.

-The babies in Hong Kong are mostly formula-fed, and everyone knows that formula babies end up chubbier. The culture there is still very much against public (and perhaps even private) breast-feeding, making it very inconvenient to be out and about and have to find a bathroom stall in which you can nurse your kid. Little wonder these infants are getting the bottle, and getting fat.

-The myth that most Chinese food is healthy is a great big lie. It's healthy if you choose to isolate and focus exclusively on the nice leafy green veggies, which are mostly prepared by stir-frying or boiling. If you look at the roasted poultry, however, you'll notice that Chinese people eat the skin, and prefer the dark meat. They believe it to have a smoother texture than the "dry white meat." As well, many of the Chinese bakery products are loaded with sugar and lard, and the majority of street vendor food is deep-fried. There's virtually no such thing as 100% whole-wheat or "brown" in Hong Kong, because the people there prefer white bread and white rice. The pork chops aren't trimmed of their fat, and nearly everything that isn't steamed is cooked in oil.

here's no space in Hong Kong for kids to run around after school. Most people live in high-rise buildings with no back yards, most schools only have outdoor "courtyards" and no indoor gymnasiums, and the public parks are the sole "grassy areas" on which kids can do any serious cardiovascular activity. So what do kids do after school? They go home and sit at their computers, or they "hang out" at the malls and eat junky food, or they go to "cyber cafes" and play online games for hours on end.

-For Chinese people, it's an act of love to give in abundance to your offspring what you didn't have growing up. So, for many people who lived during times of war or cultural revolution or just plain poverty, having the ability to provide food in excess for their family is considered a blessing, not a curse.

It is hardly a surprise, then, that 20% of the population in China is overweight or obese. I'm only surprised the numbers aren't higher.


cristina said...

I just saw the other day that Krispy Kreme has joined the ranks of American companies in HK in an effort to make more $$ that they are not making here anymore. So it isn't going to get any better :(

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Oh..and KFC has also set up shop in HK already, along with Pizza Hut. You honestly cannot walk more than 3 blocks without hitting at least one of these chain fast food places.

At least I won't be the biggest Chinese person in HK by the time I go back there ;)

Wobbly*Bits said...

Warning: Blatantly ignorant comment ahead.

I must say that I always assume "Asians" as a whole are a thin people. I know it's unfair to group all Asians together, but I don't know that many overweight Asians as a whole. Yes, that's terrible to admit, but I'm naive. I figured aside from sumo wrestlers, Asians just had better genes. Something to do with the soy in their diet or the portions they eat or the fact they eat with chopsticks. No clue.

Is the prolific American fast food to blame or was it inevitable regardless?

Thanks for posting this blog, Mrs. L! I hope you didn't lose too much respect for my ignorance for I have now seen the light!

cristina said...

My guess is the sedentary technology-dependant life style exists there too, H? Perhaps not to the extent it does here...but I'm sure its not like it used to be once upon a time.

Ahhh...think of all the great food you can eat next time you visit HK :) LMAO !!

And Wobbly...meant to say I read your blog too but it wont let me leave comments :(

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Actually, in general Asians *are* smaller. Esp. the HK ones - some are crazy skinny. I think it's the fact that fresh milk costs so bloody much there ($4.00CDN/litre) that most kids growing up don't get the same nutrients (and additives in processed food)that we do. Hence, smaller bones and gray teeth. They also walk a lot more than we do, and few can afford to drive so there's a lot of hoofing from the bus stops.

However, the influx of fast food coupled with the advancing technology is definitely leading more youngsters to stay home and sit in front of their comps, or sit at the cyber cafes and game all night long.

And Cristina - the next time I'm in HK I am walking *everywhere*...these pounds need to go!! ;) Plus, I don't trust the cleanliness of street vendors so you won't be finding me with a greasy fried chicken wing in my hand! =P

Wobbly*Bits said...

I guess soon all cultures will be following our American ways. I dare say never the perfect French though. Such a shame...Aren't most Asians lactose intolerant? I swear I'm not trying to make every generalization known to man in your blog, but I actually have quite a few Asian friends and I swear this is something they told me. Oh my now I'm sounding really pitifil ("I'm not racist, some of my best friends are black..."). I hope you can figure out the tone I'm *trying* for here!

I think the Internet will make us all fatter. I now walk the two miles to and from work, but I could so easily take a $1.75 busride. I can have food delivered to my door, clothes, cleaning supplies, furniture...We don't really need to ever leave the house. It's sad for many many reasons, the least of which because it requires so much less movement and would have to lead to people being overweight.

Sorry Cristina, I'm pretty bad at all things blog! I really wish I could figure out how to post links to my favorite blogs, or do so many things...Thanks for reading anyway!!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Many of my Asian friends & family are semi-lactose intolerant, too. It probably has to do with the non-fresh, tetra-pak milk that they used to drink.

HK forced me to do a ton more walking than I do now, which I blame (in part) for my weight woes today. *sigh*

Off to the gym I go...

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Wobbly - in your "Settings" section under "Comments" you can change your blog to accept anonymous comments (or comments from non-blogger users). That would allow Cristina to post.

Conversely, Cristina - just start a blogger account and then you can leave comments for Wobbly. I don't think you *have* to have a blog, just an account, to do it.

BTW chicko - when are we gonna talk again? It has been a while! =P

cristina said...

SHOULD BE SOON WOMAN :) I am the worst friend ever :( NOT SURE WHY just get so absorbed in our own day to day crap and I neglect people I love :( Is there a 12 step program for that? ;)

BTW I really like this pop up screen better than how it was before!!!!!!

Nome said...

This is a really intelligent post, and I think it adresses a growing concern in China, and in Asia in general.


Love the blog.