60 million Chinese urbanites overweight, warns govt

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, China

Increased meat and fat consumption, and lower grain and vegetable
intake has left 60 million urban residents in China overweight and
160 million with high blood pressure, according to a report
released at the weekend.

China's State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee presented the data at a forum attended by WHO and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. The country's public health authorities are increasingly concerned with the country's rising levels of overweight, the result of an unprecedented influx to the cities and the associated decline in physical activity, alongside growing income levels. A previous survey found that an average city dweller in China consumes close to 22kg of meat a year and that fat consumption accounted for 38 per cent of daily energy intake, much higher than the recommended level. Meanwhile, grain accounted for about 41 per cent of urban residents' daily intake, lower than the suggested 65 per cent, reported the official media Xinhua. Yang Xiaoguang, deputy secretary of China Academy of Nutrition, told AP-Foodtechnology.com that there are three major problems with the diet of China's urban citizens. These include excessive intake of meat and oil, insufficient consumption of rice and other crops, and too little intake of milk and beans. "For example, Chinese people are more and more fond of pork however its saturated fatty acid level is much higher than in other kinds of meat."​ The State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee, a government body charged with advising local government on healthy diets, warned that the rise in obesity is expected to affect more middle aged and young people. Data from China's national surveys on health in school children shows that this trend is already in full swing. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children aged 7-18 years increased 28 times and obesity increased four times between 1985 and 2000, particularly in boys, suggesting that China is fast catching up with the West in terms of childhood obesity. Scientists have called on the government to take advantage of the lessons learnt by developed nations like the US and do more to educate the population about the risks of obesity before it is too late. Speaking at the forum, Wang Delong, vice minister of China's Ministry of Health, said that the government planned to take several actions to prevent an ongoing rise in overweight. Additional reporting by Pan Yan​.

Related topics: Markets, East Asia, Asian tastes, Meat, China

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