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Suffering from the good life, Chinese need to get back on bikes

by Gene Bisbee at 09:42AM (PDT) on August 5, 2005 | Permanent Link | Cosmos

People in China used to ride their bicycles to get to work, shop, visit. Film clips of the country used to show roads packed with bicycles -- such as the ubiquitous Flying Pigeon .

Now, it sounds like the Chinese might need to get on their bikes for exercise.

Many Chinese are suffering obesity from a sedentary lifestyle, according to Asian News International . The wire service reports:

Once known as the "Bicycle Kingdom", China has become a country of "couch potatoes." Millions of urban residents lead a sedentary lifestyle, dominated by computers, television, the Internet, video games, DVDs and cellphones. Instead of bicycling to work, as they did right up to the 1980s, they now are driving cars or travelling on the new subways. The traditional diet of grains and vegetables has also been replaced by a Western-style diet of fatty processed foods.

It's ironic that the world's top bicycle producer and exporter would have a problem with people suffering the ill-effects of not enough exercise and too much bad food.

The Guangdong Province in southern China alone exported 18 million bicycles in 2002, with more than half going to the US and the rest going to other Asian countries.

If an increasing number of Chinese are suffering from obesity and diabetes, the diseases of affluence as Asian International says, maybe they could spend some of that affluence on high-tech American made bikes and help balance the bicycle trade between the two countries.

That's already happening. In an interview with Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce Mary Burke, formerly a VP at family-held Trek Bicycles, Wisbusiness.com reports that Trek is sending a load of US-made bicycles to China.

Ironically, just as Burke is about to assume office at Commerce, Trek is preparing to send its first shipment of Wisconsin-made bicycles to China.

"Clearly there is huge market there for technically superior products," said Burke.

 

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