Growing appetites develop for healthy eating

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-28 08:00
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A typical dish sought by health-conscious diners. Photo provided to China Daily

More diners saying no to sugar and heading for the gym

Xu Ping, a freelance worker in the investment industry in Beijing, used to love eating desserts, but since she started to exercise regularly five years ago, she has steered well clear of these sweet temptations.

However, when she recently discovered a new raw-chocolate product that contains no granulated sugar, she decided to use it as a food supplement after her daily workout session.

"The flavor of the chocolate is so good, it melts in my mouth and it won't make me gain weight," Xu said, adding that when she buys processed food, she always checks the nutrition information first.

"There are now more varieties of low-fat and low-sugar snacks and desserts for me to choose from," the 52-year-old said. "I used to have some protein bars after running, but they are not as tasty as the chocolate."

The fat and sugar content in processed food has become a key factor for Chinese customers, who have placed more emphasis on a healthy diet, especially since the pandemic emerged. The variety of healthy snacks, meal replacements and functional food products on the domestic market has risen fast.

Functional foods claim to have an additional purpose, often related to health promotion or disease prevention, by adding new ingredients or more of those that already exist.

According to a report on fitness and weight loss issued by the JD Big Data Research Institute, the number of searches for "lose weight" and "fat loss" on all JD platforms reached about 10 million in March, while those for "low sugar" rose tenfold year-on-year.

Dong Fei, senior researcher at the institute, instigated the research when she noticed the growing number of searches after Spring Festival. She said data for the report were collected from customers among JD's 400 million users who searched and ordered such products

"Customers are losing weight cost-effectively, and they like to precisely control the number of calories they eat, which they lose by exercising," she said.

The report divides those who want to lose weight into three categories according to their needs: low caloric intake; more exercise; and balanced nutrition.

"Young people prefer to do more exercise. For the low caloric intake group, many of these people are customers who have families and kids and don't have much time for exercise," Dong said.

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