Obesity rates soaring in rural China: Study

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A new study has highlighted rising obesity rates among children in rural China as the fallout from “left-behind” kids takes its toll.

The study, published in the latest issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found children and adolescents in the countryside of Shandong Province to be more overweight in 2014 than they were three decades ago in 1985.

The study was based on a survey tracking nearly 28,000 students aged 7 to 18 from rural schools in Shandong--a predominantly agricultural area--over the period.

Some 17.2% of the boys surveyed in 2014 were obese--while the rate was a mere 0.03% in 1985, using the BMI scale.

The obesity rate among girls was less at 9.11% in 2014, although again much higher than the 0.12% registered back in 1985.

Zhang Yingxiu, one of the co-authors of the study, said the increase was even more apparent among children aged from 7-12.

The authors attributed the growing obesity rate to the country’s social and economic development, as well as lifestyle changes that had led to excessive energy intake and lack of physical exercise among youngsters.

"Compared with their parents’ generation, today's rural children are better fed but spend far less time on physical exercises," said Zhao Jinshan, co-author of the thesis and a nutritionist with the Shandong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The phenomenon is typical among “left-behind children”--those who are left in the care of relatives by parents who work in urban areas far away from their rural homes.

Zhao said: “Dietary habits are a complicated social issue, and rural society needs to enter a certain stage of development for its people to realize the importance of a balanced diet.”

- here's the story from Xinhua

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