Lahore, November 13:

Fast food chains in Lahore and the rest of Pakistan are counting their profits after another

successful Eid and Ramzan, their expansion continuing across a country renowned

for its ethnic cuisine.

There are now 26 KFCs and 18 McDonald’s across the country. Not so much in numbers perhaps but significant nonetheless for a country with essentially only three big urban centres — Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. A stroll down the Mall, Lahore’s commercial hub, provides enough evidence of the Pakistani palate and its increasing fondness for burgers and fried chicken. Office workers, families and friends head to their favourite restaurants, many walking past humble outdoor eateries offering traditional Pakistani food like karahi chicken or boti kebab and straight towards the bright lights of McDonald’s, KFC, AFC (Al-Najan Fried Chicken), or Chick ‘n’ Chicks, a KFC for kids.

“I go to fast food restaurants two or three times a week,” says Salman Khan (21), “I like the crunchy chicken at McDonald’s — it’s very tasty.” Ali Salehuddin (19) says, “I like Western food a lot. Whenever I’m in a sad mood, I go to KFC.” And Jamal Yasir (37), explains, “McDonald’s is my favourite, and KFC is my number two.” Clearly, the top slots are all taken. And although it doesn’t seem to concern the likes of KFC and McDonald’s, this year’s Ramzan coincided with a deeply worrying report from the World Health Organisation (WHO). It claims that in Asia, chronic diseases, dominated by diabetes, cause twice the number of deaths as infectious diseases (including HIV), maternal/prenatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies combined.

The report also claims that it is the increasing consumption of fatty, Western foods across the continent that has caused the development.