"You're fat", mail campaign tells Shanghai residents
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How do you tell 20-odd million people they need to watch their weight? Shanghai authorities have opted for the not-so-subtle hint of sending their constituents a tape measure by post. Read more...
Photo : Adam Minter
How do you tell 20-odd million people they need to watch their weight? Shanghai authorities have opted for the not-so-subtle hint of sending their constituents a tape measure by post.
As part of a year-long programme to promote healthier lifestyles for its citizens, including distributing free salt and oil dispensers designed to lower consumption, the Shanghai municipal government has been mailing free weight watch kits to every household in the city. Each kit contains a 138-page book entitled the "Shanghai Residents Guidebook to Self-Managed Fitness", a measuring tape, and a Body-Mass Index [BMI] calculator.
"The government sent these boxes because the Chinese people don’t pay enough attention to weight-related health risks"
Zoe Wang is a Shanghai resident.
I think this programme is a good idea. The blue box can be a more efficient way to raise awareness of weight and health issues, rather than just telling people "less oil, less salt". People can use the tools to measure their cooking ingredients. You know, Chinese are used to cooking their food with oil and prefer heavy flavours, which are not necessarily very healthy eating habits. But the Chinese don’t pay enough attention to these health risks. Maybe that is why the government sent the blue box.
If you think the box is useless, you can refuse to use it or throw it into the trash; either way you are free to make the decision, right? I even saw some people using the [oil] bottle as a sports water bottle "
The preface of the book states: "As an expert at the World Health Organization once pointed out, "The overwhelming majority of bad influences upon one's health leading to premature death can be circumvented with preventive behavior; so long as you are willing to change your lifestyle, your mortality rate can be altered by as much as 50%." The booklet goes on to explain the risks of alcohol and tobacco consumption.
"It’s like one partner saying to another: 'Darling, don’t be offended, but please take care of this before you start looking like that American couple next door"
Adam Minter is an American writer who lives in Shanghai. He received his kit through the mail on September 6 and posted this comment on his blog, Shanghai Scrap.
Last night I walked into the lobby of my Shanghai apartment building and found long and narrow blue boxes protruding from most of the (100 or so) mailboxes. Here’s mine, unpacked:
[...] The device in the upper left-hand corner of the box is a tape measure with a Body-Mass Index [BMI] calculator built into it. The BMI is a handy short-hand for assessing whether or not someone is obese (or underweight); meanwhile, waist circumference is a good way of assessing a person’s risk from diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-associated ailments. So, below, note the green and red zones on the tape, as well as that easy-to-use BMI spin wheel.
I think it goes without saying that – when somebody sends you a BMI calculator via the post – it’s not without purpose. I also think that anyone who has spent any time in Shanghai over the last decade knows that waistlines are expanding here (and throughout affluent urban China). No doubt, China’s obesity problem is puny in comparison with the United States’s pathetic, beluga-sized obesity crisis. But it’s growing, and so I interpret this uninvited package as akin to one partner saying to another: “Darling, don’t be offended, but please take care of this before you start looking like that American couple next door.
Back in January, Beijing authorities, always less subtle than their Shanghai cousins, skipped the mail slot and instead sent the BMI tape measures home with school kids, telling them to assess mom and dad, then report back."