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Fast Food, Western Diets Stoke Obesity in China; Highlight Need for 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
July 11, 2012

A new study in the journal Circulation found that Chinese men and women who ate Western fast food increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Set this new information against the dizzying expansion of fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway in China, and you have a recipe for disaster in the world’s most populous country.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 38 percent of Chinese over the age of 15 are overweight. Official Chinese statistics show that there were 100 million obese people in China in 2011—five times more than there were in 2005.

Not coincidentally, the demand for meat has skyrocketed. Pork consumption alone rose 400 percent from the early 1990s through 2007. More than half of the world’s pigs are now eaten in China.

The Chinese are also eating twice as much fast food today than they ate in 1990. McDonald’s has announced plans to open a restaurant in the country every day through 2015. Burger King says it will open 1,000 restaurants in China in the next few years. Just like in the West, the menus of these chains in China are dominated by meat-heavy foods.

It is tempting to contrast the hazards of Western and fast-food diet staples, like meat, with the benefits of traditional Chinese diet staples, like rice, vegetables, and soy. Another new study—this one from Journal of the Academy of Nutrition—highlights the anti-inflammatory benefits of soy in Chinese women. The more soy products the women consumed, the less inflammation they experienced. Inflammation is linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Soy and other healthy Chinese staples are on the menu for PCRM’s Kickstart China, scheduled to return Aug. 6. The Kickstart is designed to help Chinese-speaking people around the world improve their health. It offers free access to 21 days of meat- and dairy-free versions of traditional, disease-fighting Chinese recipes like ma po tofu, vegan spring rolls, and brown rice sushi.

Kickstart China is based on the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program that has helped more than 200,000 people around the world lose weight and improve their health with a low-fat, plant-based diet. Participants who sign up will get daily e-mail messages for three weeks with an all-access pass to:

  • Celebrity coaches, including actress Gao Yuanyuan, musician Louis Cheung, singer-songwriter Khalil Fong, and longtime PCRM friend Maggie Q
  • Nutrition and cooking demonstration videos
  • A community forum
  • An interactive restaurant guide

Here’s Gao Yuanyuan explaining more about the program in Chinese:

Please take moment to share this blog with your Chinese-speaking friends and family, and encourage them to register at


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