"More, more, more of everything — larger portions, with more ingredients, more salt, more sugar, more oil, more fats," says Paul French, a market analyst in Shanghai who has written a book called Fat China. "Breakfast and lunch and dinner and supper and grazing with snacks during the day. And drinking fizzy drinks rather than tea."
Public-health experts in China say obesity has become a serious problem: Twenty-five percent of adults are overweight or obese, according to a 2008 study published in Health Affairs. But Cai Meqin, a nutritionist at Shanghai Jiaotong University, says all the overeating is partly a reaction to the food shortages under Chairman Mao a generation ago.
"At that time, Chinese people [did] not have much food to eat, so they [were] very slim, but right now we have much, much more food, so they eat more [and are] overweight," says Cai.
My first year in China I worked at a high school. Every lunch, many children would forgo cafeteria food and instead go across the street to the two or three convenience stores. There they would purchase potato chips and soft drinks. Many students ate this junk food every single day.
And I see KFCs often packed with little kids. China better be prepared for a future diabetes epidemic.