[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Unhealthy Western habits

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Unhealthy Western habits

The Monday, Aug. 23rd edition of the JoongAng Daily carried two great stories.
On the front page, “Exercise lack blamed for flabby children,” which blames fat increases on excess computer use according to an “Education Ministry source,” and on the back page, “A bit of America planted in the middle of Gyeonggi,” which touts Ansan’s new English Village, an English immersion camp with a typical American breakfast menu of “pancakes, scrambled eggs, assorted cereals and milk.”
In the eight years since I immigrated to live and teach in Korea, I have watched as the girth of typical Koreans expands.
Like Americans, we are becoming an obese society.
Take the Ansan breakfast: Pancakes contain refined white flour (nutrition minimal), excess salt and refined white sugar are mixed with milk (a perfect food for baby cows, but horribly fattening for humans), and eaten with syrup, which is nearly all sugar and artificial flavors. Scrambled eggs, aside from the cholesterol question, are very fatty, again mixed with cow’s milk and fried in (most likely) saturated fat.
All the store-bought cereals I have observed in Korea contain huge amounts of refined sugar usually clouded by terms such as ‘disaccharides’ or ‘corn syrup,’ and then milk is given to the students to wash down all the fat and sugar with milk fat and milk sugar.
Now, lack of exercise is critical. But the most important meal of the day, breakfast, is tantamount to good health.
I hope that the Ansan program and others springing up like it will teach nutrition along with English.
Well established immersion programs, such as Hongik University’s, have many years of experience in providing good nutrition along with English.
Such concerns with all aspects of good living and studying, e.g., elimination of all campus smoking, spitting and providing air-conditioned and heated classrooms in a comfortable and quiet environment, are part of the reason that the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities project coordinator (JAD, May 8, 2004), Ms. Katrin Engelhardt (nee Kreisel), expressed her opinion in June that Hongik University will soon be Seoul’s “first ‘health promoting university.’”
Everyone needs English today, and to fully enjoy the benefits it brings we need healthy bodies.
Let’s recognize what is good about the Western world, and what is bad.
And although I wouldn’t be allowed to say it in a public forum in politically correct America, obesity is bad. It’s bad, because it’s unhealthy.


by Grant Carner
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