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Big data to play role in better nutrition

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-20 07:10

Big data technologies will play a greater role in improving the health and nutrition of Chinese people in the next decade, a top health official said on Wednesday.

"We will promote the development of health and nutrition industries with the help of cloud computing, big data and the internet to provide customized services that are easy to access," Jin Xiaotao, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at a news conference about a national nutrition plan.

"The public will have a brand-new experience of nutrition and health," Jin said. "They will enjoy more precise and customized guidance on nutrition and health in an environment of artificial intelligence.

For example, people can get up in the morning and get tips about their health, Jin said - how heavy a workload they can bear on that day and what they should have for lunch.

The commission is making plans to carry out the National Nutrition Plan (2017-30), which was released by the central government last week, Jin said.

The plan, which emerged amid various health challenges, including unhealthy lifestyles and an increase of nutrition-related diseases, sets targets for improving nutrition by 2020 and 2030.

The goals include reducing the incidence of anemia in pregnant women to below 10 percent by 2030 (from the 2015 level of 17 percent) and decreasing the percentage of children under 5 with stunted growth to below 5 percent.

The average daily intake of salt will be reduced by 20 percent by 2030 from current levels, under the plan, while growth of the overweight population will be noticeably checked.

Authorities will take measures to improve nutrition, including legislation, encouraging scientific research, cultivation of talent, encouraging the development of nutritious foods and promoting upgrades in the food industry, according to the plan.

"The plan is based on detailed surveys and pays particular attention to prominent nutrition problems," said Yan Weixing, deputy director of the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment.

"We also borrowed from successful international experience in the formulation of the plan," Yan said. "The goals are achievable with effort."

Jin said a national health data platform linking the platforms of all provincial regions in China has been established, paving the way for the mass development of more intelligent and customized health services.

The health industry in China, including the nutrition industry, is expected to reach $17 trillion by about 2035, accounting for about half of China's gross domestic product by then, Jin said.

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