Monday, August 04, 2008

Drug Makers Drool Over China's Nutritional Shift

There are 1.3 billion people in China today. The US has less than a quarter of that population, about 300 million. China has quite a market if you have something to sell.

According to Barry Popkin's latest research 1, those 1.3 billion are experiencing an acute nutritional shift. Increased prosperity has led to increased consumption of meat, dairy food, and added fats. Popkin says that nutritional shift is contributing to China's increasing incidence of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity -- obesity doubled among China's women and tripled among its men in the 11 short years between 1989 and 2000.

An analyst with the healthcare consulting firm IMS Health, Ray Hill, says pharmaceutical companies view this as a boon. "[China] has the highest growth rate for pharmaceutical sales than anywhere in the world.", he says.

If what Popkins says is true, that the diets of people in China, which have shifted to include "more energy-dense foods, which have higher saturated fats and calories than vegetables and carbohydrates", are responsible for the downturn in their health, why not encourage a nutritional shift towards one that mirrors their pre-1989 consumption? (Why not do that here?)
1 Barry Popkin PhD is a professor of nutrition and economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of the recently published: Will China’s Nutrition Transition Overwhelm Its Health Care System And Slow Economic Growth?, Health Affairs, July 2008

The photo is from The Keropok - Singapore Daily Photo. Not quite China, but according to Wikipedia, the majority who live there are Chinese. This caption accompanied the photo:
"Chinese food is usually communal and not individually served. So, there needs to be two pairs of chopsticks. Which pair to use? Well, the steel pair is for your personal use, ie put food into your mouth. The black pair it to take food from the main plates to your own plate or bowl."
How about that.

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