Asia

Over half of Chinese adults now overweight: National Health Commission

BEIJING (AFP) – More than half of adults in China are now overweight, official figures have shown, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles among the country’s growing middle class translating to expanding waistlines.

China has experienced rapid economic growth in recent decades that has profoundly changed eating habits – massively popular online delivery apps make cheap, calorie-rich meals available to city dwellers at all hours.

That growth now means that more than 50 per cent of people are overweight for the first time, according to a National Health Commission report published Wednesday (Dec 23), out of which 16.4 per cent are considered obese.

That proportion is nearly double the 29 per cent of adults classified as overweight or obese in 2002.

Many adults in China now “exercise too little, are under too much pressure, and have an unhealthy work schedule,” Wang Dan, a nutritionist in the northeastern city of Harbin, told AFP.

Chinese children are also increasingly overweight, the report revealed, with 20 per cent of 6 to 17-year-olds now heavier than the healthy limit compared to 16 per cent in 2012.

Being overweight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

The worst-affected country in Asia remains Malaysia, where around 65 per cent are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization in 2019.

Adult obesity is on the rise across the world, in both prosperous regions as well as areas where people are unable to afford healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods.

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