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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Wednesday: The Big Mac Attack
After reading Jane's web log several days ago, it
seems ironic that my Wednesday night class decided
that they wanted to discuss the world's obesity
problem. The first question that they asked was "why
are Americans so fat." My simple response was fast
food. Americans are inundated with T.V. and radio
commercials by large food chains which advertise late
night snacks, large portions, and any greasy, salty,
or sweet delectable that one could imagine. Not only
have the food chains inundated our airwaves, they have
also taken over our newspapers, billboards, and any
other advertisement medium that they could imagine.
And yes, despite claiming that they have cleaned up
their acts, greasy burgers and fries still inundate
the walls and posers in and around the stores. It
seems if the government could regulate cigarette
billboards and ads then they could do the same thing
for these fast food chains. What horrifies me is that
one seems to get the fact that fast food is addicting.
When you eat fast food more than once a week which
most Americans do, you start to have craving and
withdraws. When I first went on my diet several years
ago, I would frequently have to fight cravings and
would experience mild symptoms of withdraw that seem
to indicate to me that the food was somewhat like a
drug. Sadly, the government does not recognize that
most Americans use food like a drug to ease their
nerves and calm their restless spirits. Like a smoker
takes up a cigarettes when bored, the average person
takes up a coke or bag of chips or candy bar. The
government would prefer to teach Americans how to eat
healthy which it needs to do a better job of, but it
also needs to focus on creating programs to teach
Americans how to cope with stress and boredom in other
ways than eating. The problem is that food and eating
out has become so intertwined with American culture
that one wonders whether it is a lost cause at this
point. To be honest, I see this as a lost cause unless
they divert all of their attention to the youth and
begin a propaganda blitz to turn children away from
the crack food and encourage them to eat more healthy.
Fast food has been doing this for year, now the
government needs to figure out how to win the
propaganda battle. Of course, this will also mean
battling the parents eating habits as children learn
much about eating and coping with stress from their
parental figures. China seems to have its own growing
obesity problem, but since there are not many American
fast food chains throughout the county, the main
problem stems from snacking and overeating traditional
foods that seem to be available to them at every
corner. As the children exit the gates of their
schools, they are surrounded by candy, fried and
breaded chicken, barbequed squid, soft drinks, and
chips. After eating these goods throughout the day,
the children then go home and eat a traditional greasy
meal that is both extremely sweet and salty. Every
here often wonders why diabetes is so prevalent among
the people. The other problem is that this generation
of children are known as the little princes. They were
suckled on honey and weaned on sweet and sour pork.
Obesity is a growing problem among these children as
both the boys and girls tend to be overweight. This
mainly steams from the fact that their parents
literally buy them anything that they want which often
tends to be food and candy. The schools here seem to
think that exercise is the answer to the solution, and
although it is very important and will help, only by
changing ones diet will people be able maintain a
healthy body and lifestyle. No amount of push ups or
sit ups will reduce that belly if you are munching on
greasy delicacies of any kind. China is moving into
the modern world and is starting to face many new
issues which it has never had to deal with before.
Obesity is one of these problems, but divorce, more
visible social instability, and the rising rate of
crime are all issues which the people are encountering
more frequently. These are all subjects which my
students and I discussed, and sadly they seemed to
blame the us for such problems. They think that since
they get so much media and ideas from the U.S. we are
changing their traditional ways and causing them to
become more like us. Maybe so, but my personal belief
is that the growing freedoms for women, swelling city
populations, and disgust with a growing social
stratification of the society is at the seat of their
woes, but this is just my opinion. It will be a unique
experience to see how the Chinese government evolves
to adjust to these solutions. Sadly, the government
has the possibility of regressing as most people have
become disinterested in politics after several decades
of letting secret committees do it for them. They
would rather focus their attention on the growing
power of the Yuan. Money it really is the source of
all evil. There were many questions brought up in
class but no one seemed to find any answers. The
question is not whether these problems will be
addressed but by who they will be decided. Oh well,
until next time, Christopher


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