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Eat, drink and be merry... but pay the price
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-18 00:48

The holiday season is a difficult time for those trying to stick to a healthier diet.

Health experts have warned that the incidence of diseases related to eating and drinking too much has risen in recent years, especially during holiday seasons when people tend to eat and drink more but take less exercise.

The incidence rate of fatty liver, which might lead to hepatitis and hepatocirrhosis, has increased rapidly in recent years, reaching 10-15 per cent in some major Chinese cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou, said Professor Zeng Minde from the Shanghai Medical Association.

The age of fatty liver patients tends to be falling, Zeng said.

"The holiday period is the peak season of fatty liver incidence, which is triggered by over-eating and drinking to excess," Zeng said.

Medical studies show that drinking 40 millilitres of alcohol a day, equal to two bottles of beer, can harm the liver of an average Chinese person.

The same amount of alcohol can do more harm to women than men, as women are generally smaller than men, studies show.

Long exposure to fat and alcohol can also increase the incidence rate of cardiovascular diseases, the biggest killer in China, experts said.

Experts have called for people to form healthier dietary habits and make healthier food choices.

To promote healthier eating, the State Council has published a 10-year development guideline on food and nutrition.

The China Food and Nutrition Development Guideline (2001-10) predicts that Chinese people should achieve a healthy food structure by 2010, meaning daily food intake consisting of 80 per cent of vegetables and 20 per cent of meat.

Vegetables are good sources of dietary fibre which can help lower blood cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, said Liu Lianfu, a nutritionist and president of the China Green Food Association.

A high-fibre diet may also help reduce the risk of diabetes and colon and rectal cancer.  

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