What is a better, more reliable indicator then? One that the government would find it hard to tinker with.
I think I have found one, the number of obese men in China.
According to a study done by researcher up at U of North Carolina, "more than 25% of adults in the country are overweight or obese and that the number could double over the next 20 years.
The report, based on data collected from 20,000 patients in China over the past 15 years, says obesity has increased 1.2% a year among men in that time -- higher than the rate for adult men in the U.S., U.K. and Australia."
According to Professor Barry Popkin, the reason for such hefty growth in the number of obese people has nothing to do with increased consumption of fast food or other Western foods in China.
Rather, improving living standards mean that growing numbers of Chinese can now afford vegetable oil, beef and dairy-food sources that until recently had been too costly.
The study is reported in this WSJ story.