A recent European health study found that the rate of obesity for boys and girls in rural northeastern China is growing rapidly.
Data was collected over the course of 29 years in Shandong province, for 27,840 rural students between the ages of 7 and 18. The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that the percentage of obese boys in the region had grown from 0.03% in 1985 to 17.20% in 2014. Meanwhile, obesity among girls had increased from 0.12% to 9.11%, during that same period of time. These unfortunate developments in the public health are being attributed to the country’s rapid development and adoption of Western-style diets.
While there were skyrocketing rates of obesity for both boys and girls, the study also sought to explain why boys from rural Shandong had been hit so heavily:
Boys showed a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than girls, which was consistent with the results of other Chinese studies. It may be related to the cultural background, dietary and physical activity behaviour. For example, the traditional, societal preference for sons, particularly in rural areas, may mean that boys are likely to enjoy more of the family’s resources; boys prefer to have a larger body size than girls.
Meanwhile, boys in Shanghai are also falling behind women, as they fall prey to computer gaming addictions.
But, of course, the problem isn’t simply confined to rural Shandong or Shanghai. A study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, last month found China is home to the most obese people in the world, finally surpassing the US with 89.6 million in total — more specifically 16.3% of obese men worldwide are Chinese and 12.4% of women. Continuing a dangerous and growing trend that is becoming a health crisis, both in the cities and in the countryside.
ECNS reported that, in 2012, obesity among adults in China had nearly doubled over the last decade. Furthermore, a 2015 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a staggering three-fourths of Chinese were in poor cardiovascular health, one of the country’s most significant killers. No doubt China’s rampant tobacco addiction is exacerbating the situation.
The Shandong study also found that younger children were more at risk of becoming overweight or obese compared to adolescents, suggesting the issue won’t subside on its own in the near future. Researchers recommended: “Rural areas should not be neglected in obesity intervention, policy-makers and experts should pay more attention to the new tendency.”
If measures aren’t put in place soon to address this looming health crisis, China’s age gap could grow wider, with more couples like this Sichuan one unable to take the necessary *ahem* actions to start a family.
By Matthew Patel
[Images via Woman91]