China getting fatter

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

One in five Chinese children is fat.

A new study has shown that while in 1995, only one in twenty Chinese children was overweight or obese, that number has jumped to one in five today.

The research authors expressed their surprise and concern at such a significant increase.

“This suggests a pressing need for policy responses that may include taxation of food and beverage with added sugars and fats, subsidies to promote dietary diversity, and strategies to promote physical activity and health education,” said the study’s co-author Jun Ma from Peking University professor.

The nation’s booming economy appears to be partly to blame.

According to a CNN report of the study, the research found that while China’s rapid economic growth over the past two decades had aided a reduction in childhood growth stunting, the country has also seen a four-fold rise in the number of overweight and obese children.

China’s economy has boomed in recent years and is now the world’s second-largest. The authors said their study was the first to evaluate the effect of economic growth on malnutrition in all its forms, and previous studies have focused solely on under nutrition.

Increasing incomes have allowed households to spend more on food, and urbanisation has made it much easier for families to access better health care and education, the CNN report said.

But, at the same time, it is much easier for Chinese kids to eat junk food, and kids are less physically active than they used to be.

The study was published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endochrinology, and used data from one million Chinese children aged between seven and eighteen.

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).