Obesity time bomb keeps ticking

Updated: 2016-05-20 08:20

By Wang Xiaodong(China Daily Europe)

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 Obesity time bomb keeps ticking

A special diet is provided at a summer camp for overweight children in Qingdao.

Rising living standards

Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the rapid rise in living standards in recent decades has contributed to the spike in obesity and chronic diseases.

China has moved from a period of severe food shortages in the 1970s to a time of plenty, he explains.

Fundamental changes in lifestyles and working practices, such as the popularity of cars and computers, that result in lower levels of physical activity are also factors in the rise of severe illnesses.

In addition, Liang says, a shortage of sports facilities means students don't get enough physical exercise at school, which is leading to rising levels of obesity among students.

Chen, of the Chinese Nutrition Society, says that compared with some countries, obesity is a thornier problem in China: "It's rising fastest among people in suburban areas, and these people lack scientific guidance."

In addition, because healthcare resources in these areas are inadequate, compared with those in the cities, the rapid increase in obesity is posing more health risks to the rural population.

Moreover, physical exercise is promoted less in China than the United States and European countries, resulting in many people adopting a sedentary lifestyle, he adds.

Obesity time bomb keeps ticking

In April, leading health associations including the Chinese Medical Doctor Association issued a guideline to promote standardized solutions that help people lose weight.

The guideline covers the principles and methods that should be adopted not only to help people to lose weight, but also to keep it off. It is designed to encourage clinical nutritionists and medical staff to provide patients with standard weight-loss services in accordance with the rules, explains Wang Qi, secretary-general of the China International Exchange and Promotive Association for Medical and Health Care.

Chen says there are a large number of commercial weight-loss treatments on the market, but many of them do not work and can even be harmful to health.

Although 5,000 to 10,000 weight-loss operations a year are performed in China, the actual number of obese people is far higher, he says. "Many obese people tend to stay at home and seldom go out. In this way, they become fatter and fatter."

As the problem grows, the demand for weight-loss therapies such as acupuncture and spa treatments will continue to rise, he adds.

According to the guideline, overweight people can slim down and maintain their proper weight by adhering to a few simple rules, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising properly, plus psychological intervention that can help maintain a positive mindset. It also notes that a healthy lifestyle is a long-term benefit.