Spring Festival is the longest period during a year when we gather with family members, relatives and friends to eat big meals, play mahjong and watch TV. We have seven days off and are allowed to stay in the holiday mood for another eight more days after that. Our lunar new year lasts until the 15th of the first lunar month (Feb 17 this year), or the Lantern Festival when we savor sweet dumplings.
While we still have seven days to celebrate our most important annual festival, many of us have already put on weight over the past eight days and health experts are urging us not to overindulge.
In fact, our weight and waists are catching up with those of people in advanced countries. Take our kids, for example, it is estimated that 12 million of our children are obese, accounting for 13 percent of the world's total.
Popular ads teach our children to have a fondness for Western-style fast food and there is more meat in their diet nowadays. They have no time or inclination for exercise. We need to heed the warning from health experts that the rate of obesity among our children will soon surpass that of their peers in the United States and Europe.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that without resolute measures and effective policies the proportion of people of normal weight in the country's population will drop from 70 percent to 33 percent in just one or two decades. As a consequence there will be a large increase in obesity-related diseases and chronic diseases.
Three studies published online on Feb 3 in The Lancet show that globally obesity has risen since 1980 when 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women were estimated to be obese. By 2008, 10 percent of men and 14 percent of women were obese.
We need to take the future of food more seriously. The impact of rising obesity levels and diet-related diseases is causing a terrible, unsustainable strain on healthcare and other social services.
A lack of food knowledge and cooking skills, combined with the rise of cheap, processed foods, is definitely to blame for this issue. The best way to tackle the problem is to arm people with knowledge and skills. The more people understand the food they eat, the more likely they are to respect it and eat a balanced diet.
Good health is the key to happiness, though money helps open the door. Now we have more money in our pockets, we need to learn to eat smartly.
(China Daily 02/11/2011 page8)