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A recipe for disaster

12:04 AM July 03, 2015

The so-called “fast food” has been blamed for many things, rightly or wrongly. May I offer my observations after living for more than 25 years in Asia.

I lived in Hong Kong for seven years. During that period I saw the explosion of “Americanized” fast-food outlets and their popularity among schoolchildren, which resulted in an indisputable change in the average school child’s growth: They became bigger, with the teenagers usually growing taller than their parents—and fatter—at such early age.

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For the past 20 years that I have lived in the Philippines, I have seen exactly the same thing happening to the present breed of Filipino youth, again due to the proliferation of American-based and copycat local companies—although at a slightly slower rate of change probably because of local economic factors. Many children are not just taller now; many of them are obese; and this scenario is getting worse each year.

Parents may be proud that their growing children are of bigger build than they are, mistakenly believing that there is an advantage in emulating the oft-indoctrinated American culture that misguidedly promotes size as a benefit in so many aspects of life. A more serious concern is that some parents may want to display their new wealth through excessive eating habits and their fat children—a very sick practice.

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The downside: Countries adopting this food culture have suffered. Cases of obesity and associated diseases and early deaths have been increasing exponentially; and health services are not prepared for, and cannot cope with, the longer term effects of obesity.

Filipinos everywhere, including those living in metropolitan areas, once had a sensible diet. But that has now disappeared with the middle class’ adoption of fast food as a way of life for their children. If this continues, the Philippines and countries similarly situated, will have increasing problems in obesity, early deaths and the like, and they will never achieve the average and extraordinary longevity of countries like Japan, much of whose population still adheres to an old established food culture.

The Philippines’ failure in diet education—particularly through parental guidance and control, misguided beliefs about physical size and stature, and unconcerned welfare systems—will cause serious long-term problems for the nation.

Uncontrolled diets of children, especially the obviously parents-condoned appetite for fast food, is a recipe for disaster. But who can blame the children? Just note the increasing number of parents who think to be obese is clever or a status symbol of new wealth—this is where the problem starts.

The Philippines appears to be following yet again in the footsteps of the United States, the second most obese country on Earth.

Start thinking about your children’s future, life and health. Gross size displays nothing other than lack of personal control. Filipino obesity is growing at an alarming rate. The Filipino can prove his/her worth through his/her intellect, not by copying the “overeating” habits of other countries.

—COLIN HUNT, [email protected]

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TAGS: diet, fast food, health, obesity
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