Obesity is rising in China and our speaker Paul French and co-author Matthew Crabbe wrote their new book Fat China: How Expanding Waistlines are Changing a Nation about the feature. In 1982 7 percent of the Chinese were overweight, in 2002 23 percent of urban China, 7 percent obese. In this article in AdAge they blame the advertisement industry.
Today, 100 to 120 million Chinese are obese and about half of them are kids. The effects of this obesity crisis in China will be legion, including significantly increased levels of disease, including diabetes. China’s healthcare system faces a time bomb of 100 million adults with diabetes within a couple of years. The additional costs will be massive.
Culture and wealth play a role in getting China fatter, but French also points his finger ad the advertising industry:
While we can’t blame the advertising industry for urban China’s appalling driving standards, the relationship between advertising and obesity is a long and documented one internationally, though to date, the discussion of the link between the advertising of fat-inducing foods and drinks and obesity has been muted in China.
This lack of discussion has not been due to any particular government clampdown or censorship, but rather to the rapid growth in advertising and fast-changing lifestyles that have meant that no time has yet been found for such discussions. Yet they will have to happen soon.