Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health and Wellness Observations About China

From Earon S. Davis, JD, MPH, NCBTMB
Adjunct Professor, Health and Wellness Program
School of Health Sciences, Kaplan University

Martha Foster and Earon Davis at the Great Wall of China

Hello!  I'm Earon Davis and this blog entry is immediately upon my return from 3 weeks in China with my fiancee, Martha Foster.  Martha led a delegation for the American Documentary Showcase on a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and organized through our Embassy in China.  This was my second trip to China, and Martha's 6th.  I traveled to the cities of Guangzhou, Beijing and Dalian, and Martha traveled to Nanjing, in addition.  One of the highlights of our trip was getting to experience The Great Wall of China.

So, what can I say about health and wellness in China?  Obviously, China is changing rapidly and it is difficult to make generalizations about anything.  However, the traditional culture of China, in my opinion, is far deeper than most Americans realize.  In China, food and food preparation are taken far more seriously than in the US.  The highest value in China is for food to be prepared fresh and whole.  Foods are seen as medicine, both in general terms and with specific herbs used very consciously.  Minimal processing of food, here, although MSG is seen simply as a flavoring agent rather than a health hazard.

Cigarette smoking, unfortunately, continues to be far more common than in the US, although definitely on the decline in the cities.  Generally, it is the men who smoke, and it may be more common in the North of China, and rural areas although I really don't have statistics.  There are, in the more "western" hotels, non-smoking areas and non-smoking rooms.  This sign appears in the Beijing Airport, and many public buildings in China.  There may be a general law against smoking in buildings, but I'm not sure.  In China, one sees "policy" rather than "law."  This may be related to old values from Confucian and Taoist teachings that too many laws create disobedience and thus undermine the smooth functioning of the social order.  Something to think about, perhaps.


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