Thursday, August 04, 2011

Obesity: not yet seen as a health threat in China - Paul French


Obesity as a problem is growing for children in China, seen as a way to show off prosperity, tells Paul French, co-author of Fat China, in the US edition of the China Daily. Unfortunately, it is not yet seen as a threat for health care.

The China Daily:
"If you have a society that's getting more money, and more people urbanizing, you're going to have more people getting fat," said Paul French, who in 2010 co-wrote Fat China: How Expanding Waistlines are Changing a Nation.

The study, which surveyed more than 9,000 high-, middle- and low-income students in seven of China's most populated urban areas, reveals a vital polarity between what's making children fat in China versus the rest of the world...

In China, it is the increased consumption of traditionally healthy food - now affordable by the country's prospering middle class - that is the cause.

"It's certainly true McDonald's and KFC don't help the problem, but the Chinese are simply eating more and more of everything," French said. "They're eating more veggies, they're eating more fruit and they're eating more meat - it's just greater consumption."

Excessive doting on sons and daughters, often only children because of China's family planning policy, is another unique cause for the nation's obesity levels...

While obesity in the West is recognized as a major health threat and a financial burden on healthcare, many families have yet to be educated about the dangers of excessive eating or are too focused on other problems to pay attention to the issue, French said.

Some view having a large child as a status symbol.

"It's also a sign of success. A fat child is almost like having a BMW, it's a display of your wealth," French said. "China has gone from famine to gluttony in two generations."
More in the China Daily

Paul French is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch.
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