The Bulge in the Middle Kingdom (Video)

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For years, I’ve listened to South Korean students, co-workers, and even my wife and family tell me how obese Americans are due to a rotten food culture, or even racial characteristics. I’ve listened patiently. I’ve not said a word about the diminutive grandmothers and grandfathers bent 90 degrees as if carrying phantom loads of cargo on their backs from the decades when the Korean diet lacked key nutrients. I also didn’t say a word about the street food, that, even if it were hallowed local favorites, still contained plenty of oil and salt for me to recognize it as fast food. And, of course, I said nothing of the plump kids with cellphones gorging themselves silly at the vendors’ carts between cram school sessions or devouring bags of chips and cookies in class. I didn’t warn them about the lure of modern society: cheap food that really is trash.

For years, I’ve listened to South Korean students, co-workers, and even my wife and family tell me how obese Americans are due to a rotten food culture, or even racial characteristics. I’ve listened patiently. I’ve not said a word about the diminutive grandmothers and grandfathers bent 90 degrees as if carrying phantom loads of cargo on their backs from the decades when the Korean diet lacked key nutrients. I also didn’t say a word about the street food, that, even if it were hallowed local favorites, still contained plenty of oil and salt for me to recognize it as fast food. And, of course, I said nothing of the plump kids with cellphones gorging themselves silly at the vendors’ carts between cram school sessions or devouring bags of chips and cookies in class. I didn’t warn them about the lure of modern society: cheap food that really is trash.

Now, the Chinese are taking the lead in global obesity rates, and the South Koreans are probably not that far behind. This is no longer a racial or national issue, but an economic matter. The hunger for cheap food complements the hunger for producing substandard fare that garners massive profit.

Filed under: Books, Business/Economy, East Asia, Globalization, Korea, PBS Tagged: china, diabetes type 2, food, obesity, prc



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