China has more than 1.3 billion people. To help put it in perspective, for every person in America there are five people in China.
I go to China and spend up to two to three months each year. As a tour director, I will travel the country for two weeks at a time. I can honestly say it would take me two weeks to even see 10 obese people, and in the five years that I have been going to China regularly, (the obesity rate in America is more than 60 percent) I don't think I have ever seen a morbidly obese person. How could there be so many people and so few obese people?
It boils down to lifestyle.
On my recent trip, I invited a Chinese couple in their 60s to come and have lunch with me. I ordered and an Asian salad from room service. I had brought some canned salmon from the States. When I took out my can opener and proceeded to open one of the cans, both of them looked at me like I had brought a foreign object from space. I said to them, "You don't have a can opener?"
They said, "We have never seen a can opener."
"What? No can openers in China?"
They then said, "If we need a can opener we use a knife." I then offered to give my can opener to them. They turned me down.
They said, "We do not need a can opener. We eat fresh."
WOW! Their lifestyle in China is so different.
Here are just six of the many things that I have observed they do to have a country with so many fit people.
1. Walking and riding bikes is a way of life. In Beijing, their capital city, there are more than 16 million people and 10 million bikes. They even have bike lanes on the roads with bike lights at the intersections.
2. Food is fresh. Most of the people go to the market daily.
3. Meat is a condiment. I have never seen meat served in big pieces as we see it in western countries. Most of the time it comes as part of a vegetable dish.
4. Exercise is a way of life. Throughout China, you will find groups of people and individuals exercising in parks and other public areas. The largest and most impressive group of exercisers I have ever seen is in Beijing. On my most recent trip, I stayed a few extra days and went to the park every day where I exercised with the 50 thousand people that come in and out every day. I am amazed at what their senior population is able to do.
5. Vegetables are the main part of their diet. They have a much wider variety of vegetables than we enjoy and they serve many vegetable dishes at every meal.
6. Health is on the minds of many people in China. In America, taste is at the top of our minds. It's what we talk about. In contrast, I often hear the Chinese comment on what is healthy and what is not.
Dian Thomas' new book "Tipping the Scales in Your Favor, Small Steps That make a Big Difference in you Health, Weight and Happiness" is now available in bookstores and on her website at www.DianThomas.com. A video by BYU on her weight-loss journey is also on her website. Her weekly blog also runs Mondays at www.deseretnews.com and she takes tour groups to China.