Fat city

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Globesity, portion distortion, super-sizing -- I guess we are all more than a little familiar with the sickness of the century. Coming from a Western country, I am obviously no stranger to three square meals supplemented with the three essential C's: cake, chocolate and coffee. More than a few squillion words have been written by medically educated boffins about diet, fitness and fatness. In HK, it is turning into a national obsession. I expect more HKongers could name three beauty centres offering instant weight loss programmes than three prominent politicians.

Let's set things straight -- I often sound like one of the South Park kids 'I'm not fat, I'm big boned! My colleagues pacify me by announcing that it's ok because I am tall for a Chinese girl [5ft 6in]. Most of the time, I accept that I will never be able to announce that I weigh less than 110lbs/50kgs, or that I would ever find myself saying 'I couldn't eat another bite!' Quite often, I actually relish being slightly curvaceous. To counteract my foodie instincts, the past 10 years have been spent trying to stay active and at least not gain weight. It's very simple; exercise off more calories than you consume. I don't care what they call it, let's refer to it as The Only Diet -- so far this is the only thing proven to control weight gain/loss.

The thing that really gets to me -- and Mr Tall and Mr B are probably cringing at the thought of yet another Batpor rant -- are the bands of very thin women telling me I am not fit and healthy. Long term happiness, fame, fortune and possibly a wealthy husband could be mine by drinking vegetable water and weekly sessions plugged into a machine that will stimulate all my fat cells, and probably brain cells, to implode. One of the best marketing lines was that they could control the fat cells in problem areas and actually stimulate tissue growth to increase bust size!!!

I get stopped in the street not for my stunning good looks but to be handed flyers with before and after photos of women who used to be sad and ugly but are now slim and happy!

It can be quite disconcerting for a confident woman to come to HK and be openly told that they are considered so huge as to cause offence to normal citizens. A friend of mine who is a US size 6 came to visit. She was advised by one of the street experts that they could help her lose 15lbs -- from where????? Unfortunately, she was told by several clothes stores that day that she was a Large to XL dress size. She actually thought she had morphed into a semi-whale like being on the flight over here!

One HK paradox is that the majority of the population seems to be constantly eating. I mean eating on a veritable grand feasting scale. There is the calorie-laden dim sum in the morning, the mid-morning instant noodles, the huge lunch, the afternoon tea snack, the post work munchies and then a mega meal in the evening. Where do all the calories go? Do they mysteriously dissipate whilst sleeping on the bus into work? Can setting my mobile phone to vibrate act as a pseudo abdominiser?

Of course, men have some pressure to lose the flab, but it's not directly related to their ability to succeed in the workplace or marriage stakes etc.

I read in the batgung forum that there is a Chinese girl willing to work out in a gym just to meet a western guy. If it works for her, great, but honestly, could you think of anything less attractive than a sweaty expat? [unless it's Brad Pitt, and he's already taken]. Mr B has a theory that taking a girl hiking to assess her aversion to sweat is a good indicator for girlfriend potential.

I started off wanting to pen an informative yet concise piece on the social mores of being fat in HK but halfway through, I stopped for coffee and a Danish so all is right with the World again. Excuse me, there's sugar [gasp, horror] on my keyboard………