Americans love speaking of the human rights abuses in China. In fact, this Asian country is actually winning against the United States in the race for long life. China is not just outperforming us in the area of studies; they are also outpacing our country’s citizens in the competition for life span and expectancy! We can criticize their political and personal rights abuses all we want. But perhaps it is the US that is abusing our population with the food we feed our citizens, which then is leading to our early demise. We need to start learning form the Chinese rather than competing with them!
Recently published NY Times article by Nicholas Kristof, “Where China Outpaces America,” reports that on average, the population in Shanghai China is anticipated to outlive Americans by three years, enjoying life into their early 80’s as opposed to only living into the late 70’s. While this long life span is not as common in the rural areas of China, it is certainly something that we should be wary of.
The article declares, “For those who remember Shanghai a quarter-century ago as a dilapidated city where farmers would collect night soil from families without sanitation, it’s extraordinary that among permanent residents of Shanghai, infant mortality is 2.9 deaths per 1,000 births. That is well below the rate of 5.3 in New York City… Since 1990, the country has reduced infant mortality rates by 54 percent, according to Unicef statistics. On a Chinese scale, that represents more than 360,000 children’s lives saved each year.”
What’s staggering is that amidst the political oppression, the Chinese leaders are actually providing health and opportunity to its citizens. It’s a contradiction that lines up appropriately with the country’s yin and yang dichotomy. So, what does this mean for our country of overweight, under nourished people?
Leaving the argument of health care out of the equation, I believe that our diet is a major contributor to this frightening statistical comparison. If our country didn’t allow the marketing and advertising of junk to our adults (and worse – our children), then we might not be in such dire straights. If our country promoted health, the incredibly powerful temptations to gorge on greasy pizza would not outweigh the desires to chomp into delicious and colorful vegetables.
We may have some hope. News reports have recently suggested that President Obama has requested and possibly even required junk food manufacturers to refrain from advertising to children unless they offer products that are low in sodium and fats, etc. Praise the president! Let’s have more of that please. With our First Lady also supporting exercise in the school systems, we might be getting somewhere. And with culinary celebs like Jamie Oliver, Food Revolution activist for real food in school cafeterias, our country might change its ways. But unfortunately, corporate conglomerates are out there to make a pretty penny. With the subsidy of corn making junk food cheaper to manufacture, there will need to be lots of hard core change before the system can be overturned.
We can do it, one healthy eater at a time!