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In China, the proportion of overweight teenagers has roughly tripled in the past decade. In Japan, eating hamburgers and french fries has
not made people any blonder, though it has made them fatter. Overweight people were once a rarity in Japan. The nation’s traditional diet
of rice, fish, vegetables, and soy products has been deemed one of the healthiest in the world. And yet the Japanese are rapidly abandoning
that diet. Consumption of red meat has been rising in Japan since the American occupation after World War II. The arrival of McDonald’s in
1971 accelerated the shift in Japanese eating habits. During the 1980s, the sale of fast food in Japan more than doubled; the rate of obesity
among children soon doubled, too. Today about one-third of all Japanese men in their thirties — members of the nation’s first generation
raised on Happy Meals and “Bi-gu Ma-kus” — are overweight. Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer, the principal “diseases
of affluence,” have been linked to diets low in fiber and high in animal fats. Long common in the United Stat...
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- Spring '08