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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: China's Weighty Challenge

AP Photo/Kin Cheung
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus buy their lunch at a food store in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

More than half of adults in China are overweight. That’s according to a new government study out this week that blames a variety of factors for a dramatic rise in the numbers.

Chinese society has undergone rapid transformation in the past several decades. Among other developments, broadly speaking Chinese produce more, drive more, and travel more often.

They’re also putting on weight.

The government says that back in 2002, a little more than a quarter of Chinese were overweight. By 2015, it was nearly a third of the population.

And on Wednesday, the government said that based on body mass index measurements, more than half of Chinese are overweight — with more than 16% of them being obese.

That’s still better than the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control says about two-thirds of Americans are overweight — including about a third who are obese.

Health officials in China blame a decline in regular exercise, an increase in dining out, and more sugary drinks — with less consumption of fruit and vegetables. The study was based on following 600,000 people for the past four years.

The vice-minister of China’s National Health Commission says the onset of chronic illness in the country is also rising, and he says the two developments are linked.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization found that since 1975, obesity levels around the globe have tripled.

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