Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | 200 million Chinese are overweight
AP in Beijing
Thursday October 14, 2004
China's rising incomes are expanding its waistlines, the health ministry has found: 200 million citizens are now judged overweight.
More than 160 million have high blood pressure and 20 million have diabetes, the ministry says.
Other conditions linked to obesity are also rising in number.
The weight has piled on as the country has shifted to more sedentary work in the past 20 years, been freed from famine, and switched to a fattier diet.
The report released this week says that since 1992 the proportion of adults who are overweight has risen by a third, to 23%, and the number considered clinically obese has nearly doubled to 60 million, according to the official news agency Xinhua.
Many older Chinese people remember the hunger of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when as many as 30 million starved to death.
Today, fast food restaurants, convenience shops and western-inspired junk food are ubiquitous.
Health ministry officials are drafting nutrition guidelines with the help of the World Health Organisation.
The deputy health minister, Wang Longde, was quoted as saying: 'We will work hard to intensify public education, advocate a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to improve people's awareness and capabilities of keeping personal health.'