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Nearly 200 million Chinese are overweight
Updated: 2004-10-13 16:47

The Health Ministry says in a report that 200 million Chinese are overweight, a sign that rising incomes are helping to expand waistlines.

Guan Chen (R), 24, sits after being weighed-in at a competition sponsored by a Chinese diet drug company in Beijing in this April 6, 2002 file photo. Chen weighs 191 kg. About 60 percent of adults in Beijing are overweight and obesity, once the preserve of the West, is becoming more and more common among children, a city survey showed on October 12, 2004.[Reuters]

More than 160 million Chinese have high blood pressure and 20 million suffer from diabetes, the ministry said. Those rates and other obesity-related ills are rising.

Chinese waistlines have swelled as the nation has shifted to more sedentary work over the past two decades and a populace whose parents survived repeated famines could afford a fattier diet.

The new study released this week found the proportion of overweight adults in China has jumped by one-third, to 23 percent, since 1992.

It said the number of people considered clinically obese had nearly doubled to 60 million, or 7.1 percent of adults, though it didn't say how that category was defined.

Many older Chinese still remember the hunger of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when many people suffered starvation.

Today, children who grew up during the two-decade-old economic boom have no memory of hunger. Fast food restaurants, convenience stores and Western-inspired junk food are ubiquitous.

Health Ministry officials are drafting nutrition guidelines with the help of the World Health Organization, Xinhua news agency said.

``We will also work hard to intensify public education, advocate a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to improve people's awareness and capabilities of keeping personal health,'' Deputy Health Ministry Wang Longde was quoted as saying.

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