The Chinese Theory of Overweight

A useful or scientific theory should be based upon facts; otherwise, the theory is sheer speculation. But what are the facts?

It is a fact that Chinese immigrants do not become overweight as easily as their children born in the West. This phenomenon is obvious in Hawaii, where there are as many overweight Orientals as Caucasians, which allows us to reason that obesity has no racial discrimination. In other words, anyone - Oriental or Caucasian - born in the West has an equal opportunity to become overweight. But I have not met an Oriental immigrant who gained more than ten pounds after coming to the West. I have seen many immigrants gain eight pounds during the first year after their arrival. But their weight normally declined again within a year to maintain more or less the same as their weight in the Orient. A dramatic change in their diets caused the initial weight gain. Of course, a small number of Chinese immigrants remain overweight because they were overweight before they emigrated.

Since a person's native country should not influence their weight, I believe overweight in later life is already determined when a person has reached ten. Similar to the theory in psychology that personality is already determined before age ten (or even earlier), I believe this concept is applicable also to obesity: Undoubtedly, some people have a greater tendency to become overweight due to hereditary factors; heredity plays a role in both psychology and physiology. The crucial factors, however, are not the hereditary (predetermined) factors, but the environmental ones that may be altered and influenced. This does not mean that after age ten, a person will remain overweight or underweight, no matter what he or she does. Rather, it only means that after age ten, an obese person will be heading in the direction of obesity, and a non-obese person will be moving away from obesity unless something is done to change the direction.

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