I remember, growing-up in the 1950s, when parents in the U.S. routinely warned their Children to finish their vegetables, because Children were going to bed hungry in China. Frankly, most Kids probably wondered, what or where IS China? And some years later, most of us probably noticed that you don’t see many fat Chinese, or Indians, or Asians, in general. Well, as Bob Dylan sang, back in 1964, “…the times, they are a-changin’.”
Part of the reasoning why People in many parts of the Non-Developed World carry less poundage is: Poverty; Diet, and Life-Style, among others. Getting by on a bowl of rice or noodles and, perhaps, a very small (and occasional) piece of meat, a fish head (yes, that’s right) or beans, produces a much slimmer person. A greater availability of fish or poultry, as compared to beef, is said to be less fatty. And, a greater reliance on mass transportation, bicycles or walking is healthier than our ten steps to the car.
But, now that the Economies of many Developing Nations are growing nicely (albeit from a rock bottom start), and producing (at least in some regions) more higher pay-scale jobs, people are acquiring a greater taste for Western Foods, such as: beef; lobster; wine; eggs, fried foods and many other items. Believe it or not, milk has traditionally been quite rare in the Asian diet–even for Children. Also, cars for some, have replaced bikes and buses. So, what is the impact of changing diets and lifestyles in Beijing, Mumbai, etc?
Keep in mind that American Movies are shown pretty much Around-the-World, and people in many countries have access to: some of our TV shows; cable stations such as CNN; popular magazines, but maybe in their own national version; etc. Some countries have English-Language newspapers, or have an “English-Tab” on their web sites. So, many, many people worldwide know the stores, products, brand names and styles that are popular in the “West”. Unfortunately, however, they appear to have picked-up some of our bad habits, as well.
Bloomberg has an interesting article, by Adi Naraya, which is linked as follows: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2013-06-27/pot-bellies-transform-2-000-suits-with-india-expanding.html. It focuses on how some Retailers in India have approached the decreasing sales on clothes due to increasing pot bellies (and other parts) of the prospering Middle Class–”Consumer Class”. They basically started offering “odd-sized” clothes, and I assume that they have some version of “full-figured” sizes for the Women.
All this economic success has also fueled a rise in obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the biggest cities. Well, regardless of the politics, many people in other countries still have an affection for “Things American”. And, that includes a Big Mac and Fries, a Bucket of Fried Chicken and a Large Pizza with the Works. Gotta feed that belly, huh?
Now, something similar has also been going on in China and, no doubt, elsewhere in the Developing World. Here, the linked article by Paul French, from Foreign Policy, “In Search of Mickey Li’s”, takes a different approach, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/24/in_search_of_mickey_li_s. Mr. French attacks the popularity of American-Style Fast-Food more directly; however, the cause may very well apply to India, and elsewhere, as well.
Mr. French questions, with 1.3 Billion People, why China doesn’t have it’s own Fast Food–and restaurants that serve it? Wherever you go in China, there are numerous Mom-and-Pop storefronts that offer bowls of noodles, a little rice and, perhaps, a touch of fish or beans. But, part of the problem is the size of China and, probably, India too. These countries are divided among numerous different Peoples, Languages and Cultures. So, as Mr. French found, there doesn’t appear to be any “National Dishes”! That’s quite unlike the (much smaller) U.S. where, everywhere you go, Burgers, Fried Chicken and Pizza are extremely popular dishes.
Unfortunately, Americans seem to be resting on their “Laurels”–or something else–in the National Obesity Race. Mexico has just replaced us as Numero Uno, but only by a hair–or, is that a fry? But, we certainly shouldn’t be cheering the Chinese and Indians onward–and UPward (on the scales)–just to make us look better.