Retro Action, January 19, 2007: Want a Beijing Big Mac? Roll Down the Window

Jan 19, 2011· 0 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.
It all started with the chicken: the first fast food in China was KFC. (Photo: Reuters/Nicky Loh)

What do you get when you combine a rapidly expanding economy and a whole lot of cars?

Answer: Obesity.

Much to the dismay of the World Health Organization and nutritionists everywhere, Beijing opens its first McDonald's drive thru on this day, complete with traditional lion dancers and a Chinese Ronald McDonald (as if clowns weren't scary enough).

"China's double-digit economic growth has created a burgeoning market for cars, fast food and other consumer goods," reported the AP at the time. "The country overtook Japan last year to become the world's second-biggest vehicle market after the U.S., with 7.2 million cars sold, a 37 percent growth."

Today, despite only a 5 percent national obesity rate (compared to nearly 30 percent in the United States), over one fifth of all obese people in the world come from China.

Not surprisingly, most blame the growing popularity of fast food in the major cities, where obesity rates have ballooned to 20 percent, similar to other industrialized nations.

Does that mean we'll see a Beijing's Biggest Loser soon? By the look of those epic traffic jams—i.e. supper—it's only a matter of time.

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