Friday, July 18, 2008

Balancing the scales

From recent headlines, you might have concluded that the United States is exporting our high tech and manufacturing jobs, plus much of our national wealth to China in the form of Treasury Bills.

Now, it turns out that we’re also exporting our lifestyle woes: China is experiencing a staggering increase in the national obesity rate, especially among children.

According to new research reported by BBC News, more than 25 percent of adults in China are now considered overweight or obese. And the news is getting worse.

A national symposium has determined that one in five Chinese children is overweight. The causes? An increasingly Westernized diet, overindulgent parents, and lack of exercise. Most of those changes started coming about twenty years ago, when economic reforms were introduced. The changes led to a gradual straying away from the traditional Chinese diet of simple rice, vegetables and protein. Now, KFCs can be found everywhere; McDonald’s is in the process of infiltrating urban Chinese neighborhoods. And—gack!—even Starbucks has started a caffeine invasion, opening 66 stores in Beijing alone.

Ah, yes—how did the Chinese ever live without access to a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème on every corner? At 680 calories a cup when loaded up with whipped cream, it’s a real girth buster.

In the wake of the western invasion by KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks, has come news of the next logical franchise to take root in China: Weight Watchers. Last spring, Weight Watchers International announced it had signed an agreement to open a weight management business in China. The program will use the Weight Watchers' program for weight loss, which includes weekly meetings and weigh-ins.

With a population of 1,330,044,605 in that country, there’s plenty of room for market expansion and growth. So to speak.
Of course, they'll probably have to tweak their program materials a bit. For example, how many Weight Watcher points does one calculate for fried seahorses-on-a-stick, the popular national snack?
By the way, any of you weight Watchers out there--what's your most points-efficient snack? Mine is currently the cranberry-mango-blueberry Zen muffin, which we have around LA. Tons of fiber, and it's supposed to be just 3 points (if it's more than that, I don't know if I want to know (grin)).


Linda O. Johnston said...

I can think of more productive things to export to China, Kathryn!
And as far as WW points, I became addicted to half a grapefruit every morning when, years ago, I learned it had no points. Of course, two halves are one point, so there is some effect over a week or several... if one is honest enough to count it!

Camille Minichino said...

No wonder I can't lose weight. The math is off.
Half a grapefruit is no points, but put two 0s together and you get 1 ?????

Kathryn Lilley said...

I know, that's Weight Watchers math, Camille, lol! I guess what they really don't want people to do is binge out on anything that's considered "zero" points. On the other hand, I've been known to go a day eating little more than a pint of Chubby Hubby ice-cream. Totally unhealthy, but so good!

Deb Baker said...

I just joined Weight Watchers online. Getting all the dairy, etc. that they recommend is hard on 18 points a day. I save my bonus points for wine (grin). Tell me where I can buy these zen muffins.

Betty Hechtman said...

I never went to weight watchers, but had two recipes from an old weight watchers cookbook I loved. One was bascially dry milk, water, ice, sweetner and vanilla. You put all the stuff in a blender and the ice would thicken the drink. There is a brank of dry milk called Milkman, I think, that is nonfat, but really creamy tasting. It was better than Carnation for the "shakes."

My other favorite involved mixing ricotta cheese with cinammon and some sweetner and putting on bread which was then heated slightyly in the microwave. I think they called it their version of a cheese danish. It made a nice breakfast choice.

I don't think Chinese cusine is much for dairy -- at least if you go by what is served in Chinese restaurants here, so I guess those recipes wouldn't work for them.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Deb, around here you can get them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. But there's also an actual, tiny bakery that makes them in LA--I don't know how far they distribute, but I think they might even mail them out, they're so popular!

Betty, I agree with you about WW being a tough sell in China. I've had "authentic" Chinese food many times, and the flavors and textures are quite unlike what we're used to!