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You Are What You Eat
Special> You Are What You Eat
UPDATED: April 28, 2008 NO. 18 MAY 1, 2008
A Healthier Alternative
Awareness of healthy eating is on the rise in China

Dining is a very important part of daily life for Chinese people. Often, a standard form of greeting is "Have you eaten?" Usually, the Chinese arrange lavish banquets for births, weddings and even funerals and prepare big meal celebrations for house-warmings, school admissions and job promotions. For thousands of years, the essence of China's unique and diverse food culture has formed the legacy of the nation.

But those favoring delicious food do not always eat healthily. As anyone who has tried Chinese cuisine knows, the attraction lies in its taste. But the cooking methods to ensure the taste sometimes may destroy the nutritious elements of the food.

Over the past 30 years, as the livelihoods of the Chinese have risen, a previously large hungry population has been reduced. However, the old eating habits have not developed accordingly. Statistics from the China Nutrition Society show that since the 1970s, the food structure of Chinese urban dwellers has entered a transitional period that is characterized by less staple food but more meat. This change has helped improve people's health with more protein-rich food absorbed. However, fat is hard to digest and an overconsumption of fat will affect people's health by bringing about chronic diseases. Dystrophy caused by inadequate nutrition and chronic diseases caused by overeating are becoming more commonplace in the country.

China could be listed as one of the countries with the most malnourished population, said the World Bank. More than 20 million Chinese are suffering from diabetes, while the level of blood lipids for 160 million adults are abnormally high. Another 160 million people suffer from high blood pressure. In urban areas, one person in every 100 is overweight. Yet in rural areas, inadequate nutrition is the biggest problem.

Fortunately, awareness of healthy eating is on the rise in China. At the beginning of this year, the third edition of Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents was released, in which cereal and starchy foods, fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs, dairy and beans, and cooking oil and salt make up the five categories of foods needed to construct a balanced dietary pyramid for Chinese nutritional needs.

Using this to adjust people's daily food structure will lead to a healthy lifestyle, at the expense, however, of a big appetite. If we are serious about longevity and health, there is no doubt that the large amounts of fatty food so popular countrywide will have to make way for this new way of eating.

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