Obesity is defined as “an adult having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater or equal to 30.0” (CIA Publications, 2011, website). In order to measure an individual’s BMI, their weight in kilograms is divided by their height in meters, squared…
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Obesity is defined as “an adult having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater or equal to 30.0” (CIA Publications, 2011, website). In order to measure an individual’s BMI, their weight in kilograms is divided by their height in meters, squaredThus if someone is 1.8m tall, and has a mass of 100kg, their BMI is 30.86, and they are therefore classified as obese. Obesity is associated with various serious health problems and governments and health professionals across the world are concerned with the expense and danger of the growing obesity of their populations. Two of the world’s most powerful nations – both politically and economically – differ notably in the percentage of their populations which could be classified as obese. The percentage of Americans who were measured as obese in 2006 was 39%, while in China, in 2002, this percentage was only 2.9% (CIA Publications, 2011, website). This means that if the four years separating the statistics (2002 for China and 2006 for the USA) are not taken into consideration, the USA has the sixth most obese people, as a percentage of the total population in the world, and China the sixty-sixth. And the most obvious further comparison is in terms of the percentage of budget that these governments spend on health: 16.2% in the USA; 4.6% in China (CIA Publications, 2011, website). Figures such as these seem to imply that in terms of population health, particularly with respect to obesity, the USA lags far behind China, and the general health of the Chinese is far superior to that of Americans. But there is a further statistic which provides the answer to explain this difference: in 2000, 8.7% of Chinese children under the age of 5 were underweight. Only 1.3% of American children were underweight (CIA Publications, 2011, website). This directly suggests that the central difference between these two nations, and hence their obesity rates, is that the USA has wealthier citizens than China. Thus the implication is that wealthier populations are more likely to become obese than those which are less wealthy. Recent concerns, however, reveal that the Chinese population will not always be safer from the threat of obesity than the American population. It has been claimed that China has a “growing army of overweight and obese citizens” Bristow, 2010, website article). More and more hospitals and clinics have emerged in China with one common goal: to ensure that Chinese citizens are able to lose weight. It seems that there has been an “explosion of obesity” (Bristow, 2010, website article) in China over just the last generation. More and more of the American patterns of life are serving to contribute to the increase in obesity in China. Similarly to the USA, the Chinese education system places little emphasis on sporting activities for all children. In China the focus is on academic achievements rather than on sporting achievements. In the USA, television and computers cause Americans to lead more sedentary lives. Certainly urban populations have little public space in which to exercise, in both China and the USA. And as China has experienced rapid economic growth over the last thirty years, patterns of life have changed, and consumer behavior has become more similar to that in the USA. Chinese consumers have more disposable income than ever before, and are able to buy processed food in newly emerging supermarkets (Bristow, 2010, website article). Differences between Chinese and American society remain, however. For younger people – teenagers specifically, the pattern which causes obesity is of fewer hours of sleep, and lack of activity, where television or computers replace physical activity. In America this pattern more often emerges among children in less wealthy families. In China, this has been observed in the children of affluent families, where the wealthier teenagers are more
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