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China’s meatier, fattier diet is impacting its health, food security, and environment

chinas meatier fattier diet is impacting its health food security and environment

In four decades, Chinese people went from using food coupons to eating fatty meals delivered via mobile phone apps. The country’s rapid economic rise also means that the foods that Chinese people eat are changing — and most of it’s unhealthy.

In December 2020, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported that more than half of Chinese adults were overweight. A total of 16.4% of the adult population were classified as obese. Those numbers are about nearly double the 29% of overweight adults and the 7.1% of those with obesity in 2002. The expanding waistlines are part of a significant shift in diet for a country of 1.4 billion people. BBQ restaurants, convenience stores that sell sugar-packed ice cream and snacks, and bubble tea shops have already taken over nearly every city corner, while three years of COVID lockdowns left many residents ordering in while largely confined to their homes. Those dietary changes have raised concern over the risks, both for the country and for its people, on how China is now choosing to feed itself. A bigger middle class with more money to spend In the late 1950s and early 60s, an estimated 45 million people starved to death in China. And just three decades ago in 1993, the government issued its last print of the food coupons that were distributed to Chinese citizens to get staples such as rice, oil, eggs, and meat. The days of food shortages are long…

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