Globalization: Super-Size Me


I’ve been coming to the Philippines on and off for a decade, after first visiting in 1985, and I cannot help but notice that many waistlines are expanding. There’s nothing wrong with a little extra fat, but the rates of obesity are increasing drastically, and that introduces all kinds of health-related problems like diabetes. Basically, a daily diet of deep-fried chicken and coke is about as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Historically, obesity rates in the Philippines have been extremely low, similar to those of Japan. But now the Philippines is following a trajectory similar to Mexico, where in the past few decades there has also been an explosion of fast-food restaurants and soft-drinks with most meals.

The PI and Mexico have much more in common than most people would think, as the Manila Galleons linked Manila and Acapulco with fleets several times a year – for over three centuries. A ton of Spanish loan words appear in Tagalog. And most people have Spanish names. So the diet is now similar.


In any case, the PI is going overboard with McDonalds. But they also have their own national franchise that is even more popular: Jollibees.

From Wikipedia:

“Jollibee Foods Corporation (also called JFC, and popularly known as Jollibee) is a Filipino multinational chain of fast food restaurants based in Pasig, Philippines. JFC is the owner of the popular fast food brand Jollibee, dubbed as Asia’s answer to McDonald’s in the fast food business.

With the success of its flagship brand, JFC acquired some of its competitors in the fast food business in the Philippines and abroad such as Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, and Burger King Philippines. As of January 2015, JFC had a total of more than 3,000 stores worldwide, with system-wide retail sales totaling 82.1 billion pesos for the 2011 fiscal year.”

A Filipino newspaper:

“A 2011 survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) showed that 22.3 percent of Filipino adults are overweight and 6.1 percent are obese.”


“In the Philippines, overweight children below five years old has become rampant, listing a 400% percent increase from 1% in 1992 to 5 percent in 2013.”

I think those reported rates are actually much higher by now, in 2017.

Another Manila paper has an interesting report. Here is an excerpt:

“SENATOR Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara cautioned the government that the House of Representatives’ proposed two-tiered excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages may violate World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.

The tax reform measure recently passed by the lower house includes a provision imposing a P10 excise tax on every liter of sugar-sweetened beverages containing locally-produced sugar while those containing imported sugar will be taxed P20 per liter.

“The WTO may find such two-tiered taxation discriminatory as the trade body generally bars its members from taxing imported products at higher rates to favor domestic products,” said Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The senator said that as a member country of WTO, the Philippines should ensure that its “tax regimes fully comply with international rules.”


In a perfect world, the Philippines should prioritize the health of its citizens, and just tell the WTO to go stuff itself.

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