Thesis: Dietary Pagoda it Is Typically Believed

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¶ … Dietary Pagoda

It is typically believed that Chinese foods are healthier than American fast food choices. However, when compared side by side, they are quite similar in terms of calorie content, fat content, and protein content. The following will review the nutritional content of a typical Chinese meal that one can get at any Chinese restaurant. The Chinese meal ordered was curry chicken over steamed rice with a side of wonton soup and a spring roll. For drink, I had green tea and water. This was followed by a fortune cookie.

Nutritional Content

Proportionally, the meal contained much more rice than anything else. The amounts of protein and vegetables appear to be much less than rice. Upon first glace, it would appear that the meal sticks to the dietary guidelines put forth by the Chinese Government. In content and portion, this meal appears to be a typical serving size for Chinese restaurant. In order to better analyze the nutritional value of the meal consumed. The following information was derived from Nutrition.com (2008) and reflects the nutritional content of the meal.

For nutritional purposes, the green tea and water add neither calories, nor nutritional value to the meal. The estimated calorie content of the curried chicken, rice, soup and spring roll are 1,098 calories for all of the dishes combined. This is about 1/2 of the daily calories needed for the average person, according to the U.S. Food pyramid. The total protein content is 49.5 grams. It contains a total fat content of 55 grams. It contains 99 grams of carbohydrates. Dietary fiber equals 7 grams for the entire meal. It has 227 milligrams of Cholesterol. The sodium content was a whopping 2,875 milligrams.

If one goes by the latest USDA Food Pyramid guidelines for an average adult, this meal is extremely heavy in fat and lacking in the fruits and vegetables content. It is suggested that the average adult consume 56 grams of protein per day. This meal has all of the protein required in one meal. It recommends 130 grams of carbohydrates; once again, this meal contains a majority of the daily requirements. This meal is within ten grams of the recommended fat content of 68 grams per day. A minimum of 30 grams of dietary fiber is required. This meal only contained 7 grams of dietary fiber. Sodium intake for the entire day is supposed to be less than 2400 milligrams per day. This one meal exceeded it by over 400 milligrams.

From a nutritional standpoint, this meal lacks many of the necessary elements of a nutritionally sound diet. It is high in calorie and low in vegetables and fruits. The bowl of steamed rice was the most innocent thing on the menu. Although the major content of the rice was carbohydrates and it lacked anything else, at least it did not provide the high fat and sodium content of the other items on the menu. Although this was a tasty meal, it faired little better than any other fast food in terms of nutrition.

Food Guidelines in China

The Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS) was founded in 1956 and recognized as an independent social entity organization in the China Association for Science and Technology in 1981 (CNS, n.d.). The purpose of this organization is to use scientific evidence to support balanced nutrition in the mainland Chinese diet. Similar to the USDA, their purpose is to disseminate knowledge to the Chinese population regarding proper nutritional practices within the cultural constructs of traditional Chinese culture (CNS, n.d.).

The most important product of the CNS is the Dietary Pagoda, similar to the Food pyramid in the U.S. According to the pagoda, fats and oils are at the top, representing the smallest food intake. Milk products were below that. Meats were on the next level down, Vegetables and fruits were on the next level. The bottom level, indicating the highest intake was the grains and cereals group.

When the two food guides are compared, they agree on many points. The USDA has issued an updated food pyramid that includes individualized guidelines according to the persons' age and physical activity (USDA, 2008). The USDA has also published specialized food pyramids for special dietary needs such as seniors and diabetics (USDA, 2008). This differs from the Chinese Food Pagoda, which only offers general guidelines for the public, Individualized results for the USDA Food Pyramid are recent additions to the program. When one compares the content of the Food Pyramid and the Food Pagoda they are similar.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) was only recently created in 2003 (SFDA, 2008). This organization is similar to the USFDA and appears to be set up on a similar model. They are responsible for drug registration, health food registration, and administrative protection. However, one might note that this organization is plagued by accusations of corruption. it's former safety head was executed in 2007 for corruption and accepting bribes (BBC, 2007). The foundations of the SFDA are weak and it has much to do before it can be considered an effective organization (BBC, 2007). Problems such as corruption undermine its ability to administer effective programs. However, it appears to be similar in construct to U.S. programs and guidelines.

Chinese food labeling laws are similar to those in the U.S. They must contain at least the trademark of the company, the food name, list of ingredients, net content, name and address of manufacturer and distributor, indication of production and expiration date, and the country of origin (WUSATA, n.d.). Any food product found not to comply with these regulations is destroyed or confiscated. These laws are similar to U.S. laws concerning adulterated or misbranded foods (USDA, 2008).

Nutritional Challenges in Mainland China

The nutritional status of China has changed recently. In the past, they were a country plagued by malnutrition and related health problems. However, a recent influx into the economy has changed the way Chinese people eat. It is now faced with a double burden. Some of its citizens continue to face the problems associated with malnutrition. However, obesity is becoming an increasing problem there as well (Ge, Jia, & Lio, 2007). A recent study found that the average calorie intake has decreased by nearly 100 calories per day, but the intake of fats and oils has increased dramatically (Ge, Jia, & Lio, 2007). Deaths from chronic diseases have increased since 1989 (Ge, Jia, & Lio, 2007). The Food Guide Pagoda was developed as a result of these studies, with the intention of helping to alleviate food related chronic disease. There are still concerns that the message has not reached a large portion of the society. There are also concerns that guidelines need to be developed for special populations such as infants and seniors (Ge, Jia, & Lio, 2007).

A large-scale population study documented these changes in the population in detail. For instance, Chinese children increased in height by 3.3 cm (AFIC, 2008). Rates of iron-deficiency anemia decreased from 23.3% to 17% in urban women (AFIC, 2008). One of the biggest changes in the Chinese diet is that daily protein intake increased from 17% of the total energy consumption to 31% of the total energy sources (AFIC, 2008). They types of protein also changed. They began eating more meat, poultry, eggs, soy, fish and shrimp (AFIC, 2008). Dramatic increases in the amounts of fats and oils increased dramatically as well (AFIC, 2008).

It is recommended that only 20-30% of the total energy from the diet is from fat. Recent dietary changes indicate that the average Chinese consumer now eats closer to 35% of their calories from fat (AFIC, 2008). It is not surprising that some of the same negative affects of these dietary changes are being observed in the Chinese population. For instance, obesity rates have… [END OF PREVIEW]

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