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Fat China A review

Fortunately, the country is no longer starving. Indeed, as Paul French and Matthew Crabbe point out in their book, Fat China: How Expanding Waistlines are Changing a Nation (China in the 21st Century), things are entirely different and new dangers lurk on the horizon. As their income goes up, the Chinese are joining their closest Western competitors in becoming more obese and getting the same diseases associated therein. The authors point out numerous factors are contributing to a burgeoning population, including stress and snacking, more meat and potatoes and less vegetables,, dramatic increases in beer consumption, and inroads by Western fast food outlets (KFC, McDonald’s), all of which the Chinese perceive to be the earmarks of a prosperous society. Their diet, coupled with a healthcare system that is badly broken, could signify real disaster for the Chinese people. Another policy that is only going to make things worse for the country is its one child policy. Because of that, its children are doted upon little emperors/empresses and as humorously depicted on the front cover, they are growing up in a society that condones and even encourages overeating (French). The consumer and food is definitely a changing aspect in China. The term habitual concept is used by the authors frequently to describe a country that has changed its culture and types of food consumed in only a generation, mostly in less than the last thirty years. For instance, chocolate was mostly unavailable until the 1980’s and ready made meals were unheard as late as twelve years ago. Yet, between 2003-09, purchases of ice cream went up 132%, cookies were up 124%, and sales of soda and alcohol had also increased by the high double digits. By contrast, fresh vegetables, the previous Chinese staple, only increased by only 73% (P 50). Other things in the consumer food chain have also increased the country’s obesity rate, which has increased to seventy million people, over one-third of the world’s obese population. One is China’s penchant for fast food, such as invaders from the US such as KFC. They report that 97 % of Chinese eat fast food, with more than 30% eating more than once a week. It is little wonder that KFC considers China its fastest growing and largest market. Recognizing this, domestic food places have sprung up and although they claim to offer healthy alternatives to Western outlets, they use thick sauces full of sugar and salt and almost everything is fried (P 119). The authors bring up the fact that the rate of obesity has contributed to the possible collapse of another factor, sustainability and health. With 260 million overweight, 160 million people have high blood pressure. Meanwhile instances of diabetes, cancers, hardening of the arteries, and heart trouble have more than doubled since 1996. Also, other conditions normally aggravated by obesity such as sleep apnea, infertility, and orthopedic issues (Bad backs, ankles, etc.) have increased dramatically as China’s economy continues to grow (P 7). Like their Western counterparts the Chinese are obsessed with looks and instead of considering diet and exercise to ease their woes, many of the people are turning to liposuction and cosmetic surgery (P 166). Public Television’