Western fast food, waistlines surge in India

NEW DELHI, October 9, 2011 (AFP) – Every lunchtime at a McDonald’s on the corner of one of central New Delhi’s biggest streets, queues of hungry young patrons, often four-wide and unruly, snake towards the counters. In another study published last month, the International Federation of the Red Cross focused on the “double-edged scandal” of the co-existence of malnutrition and obesity. The majority of those standing in line are under 30, most are in Western rather than Indian dress, and almost all in their choice of conversation and style are identifiably part of the much-fabled booming Indian middle class.

The only exceptions are the cheaply dressed office assistants who arrive bearing orders for McSpicy wraps or McVeggie burgers for their superiors back in the nearby corporate buildings.

“My elders say ‘don’t eat at Mcdonald’s because it’s not good for your health’ but I don’t listen to them,” said 20-year-old student Salman Khan as he left the store on Janpath with a friend. “It’s cheap and tasty.”

Drawn by a growing and increasingly wealthy population of young people in India, McDonald’s aims to increase the number of its outlets in the country from about 200 to 1,000 in the next five years.