- Title: CHINA: Chinese people are becoming overweight at an alarming rate
- Date: 29th September 2006
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE BUYING CANDIED FRUITS ON STREET WOMAN EATING CANDIED FRUITS MORE OF PEOPLE BUYING CANDIED FRUITS
- Embargoed: 16th October 2006 12:19
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVA9BF8MDA70QSQ6RUIHGH6BO322
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: In China wages are up, standards of living are up, conspicuous consumption is up....and yes, weight is up too.
Only four decades on from mass hunger and two decades on from a lingering scarcity of food, nearly one in every five people in China is overweight or obese.
And the problem is getting worse among children.
The changes in body weight began when the nation began opening the doors of its economy in the mid-80s. A study published in the August 19 issue of the British Medical Journal found that China witnessed a 28-fold increase in obesity from 1985 to 2000.
Nationwide, 215 million people out of a total population of 1.3 billion were found to be either overweight or obese in a national survey in 2002, based on definitions given by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Wu Yangfeng is the author of the study. He believes the figure should be even higher because the WHO definitions were designed for Caucasian populations.
Experts blamed China's bulging waistline on changes in the traditional diet, more fast food, reduced levels of physical activity and increased sedentary lifestyles that are fuelled by the sharp rise in the use of motor vehicles.
"The calories Chinese people take in on average everyday does not change very much. But they are doing much less physical activities. This means people do not need that much energy any more to maintain strength for work, study or do other activities," said Wu Yangfeng, professor of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing.
Being overweight or obese in a nation where slim figures are everywhere could be miserable...until you attend the Overweight Charming Show.
Kicking off on Thursday (September 28), the show will run throughout China's 7-day Golden Week national holiday at a secluded park on the outskirts of Beijing.
Heavy people from all over the country are expected to take part in three competitions, including a talent show, fashion show and mountain climbing contest.
China was once considered to have one of the leanest populations, but now it is fast catching up with the West in terms of the prevalence of overweight and obesity.
Experts warn overweight or obesity pose considerable health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.
"Of course my family wants me to lose weight. That is for sure. Because it could cause many diseases, so they all want me to lose some weight," said Mr.Yang, attending the show in Beijing.
The show's opening ceremonies featured a line-up of bodybuilders and belly dancers whose antics onstage were meant to send a message of inspiration to the overweight - to lose more, you must move more.
According to experts, China's obesity epidemic might be rooted in lax social attitudes towards body fat.
In Chinese culture, there is still a widespread belief that excess body fat represents health and prosperity, which is perhaps a consequence of China's recent history, where famine and chronic malnutrition caused the deaths of millions of people in the 1950s.
"There might be people saying something about us being fat, but I don't mind at all. I am happy and I am very confident. Everybody is different," said 20-year-old Zhao Meng.
The Charming Show is designed to promote people's awareness of a healthy diet and more exercises.
"That is why I am here to take part in the competition, and I am going to take part in more competitions. I hope more overweight people can come and join us in these physical activities. I am overweight this year, but I may not next year," said Gong Hua.
With China's fast growing economy, Chinese people are getting more affluent, but their knowledge of health is lagging behind.
People are eating more meat and sugar than before. Energy intake from animal sources has shot up from 8 per cent in 1982 to 25 per cent in 2002.
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