Thursday, April 28, 2016

Western culture and diet have caused explosion of obesity among rural children in China, says study

The U.S. has helped make rural children in China fat, according to a report published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Researchers blamed Western culture, such as sodas and video games, for the rate of obesity among rural boys increasing from 0.03 percent in 1985 to 17.2 percent in 2014. The rate for girls increased from 0.12 percent to 9.11 percent. The study examined 27,840 rural students aged 7-18 in Shandong Province. (Chart: Body mass index Z-scores).

Professor Joep Perk, cardiovascular prevention spokesperson for the European Society of Cardiology, told Science Daily, "This is extremely worrying. It is the worst explosion of childhood and adolescent obesity that I have ever seen. The study is large and well run, and cannot be ignored. China is set for an escalation of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and the popularity of the western lifestyle will cost lives."

Researchers say the "traditional Chinese diet has shifted towards one that is high in fat and calories and low in fibre," reports Science Daily. "The authors speculated that boys are more overweight than girls because they are given preferential treatment," such as greater access to sodas high in sugar and video games that keep them inactive. Dr Ying-Xiu Zhang, leader of the investigation team at the Shandong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told Science Daily, "In China today, people eat more and are less physically active than they were in the past. ... This is a wake-up call for policymakers that rural China should not be neglected in obesity interventions. We need to educate children on healthy eating and physical activity, and monitor their weight to check if these efforts are making a difference." (Read more)

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