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Report points to improved health, fitness of youth

By ZOU SHUO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-04 06:47
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Children take part in a running game at a kindergarten in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday, the first day of the new semester for most students across China. Schools nationwide are taking steps to relieve the academic burden of their students and promote the all-around development of the youngsters. WU ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Chinese students' overall health and fitness have improved in recent years, with increased height, weight, speed and lung capacity, according to a national report released on Friday.

The report, based on a survey of 374,257 students aged from 6 to 22 nationwide, was conducted by the Ministry of Education and five other departments. This is the eighth time that the five-yearly report has been released.

For students between 13 and 22, those in good health accounted for 17.7 percent of the total in 2019, up by 2.9 percentage points from 2014, the survey showed.

The percentage of middle school students in good health witnessed the biggest improvement during the 2014-19 period, up by 5.1 percentage points. However, the percentage of university students in good health remained relatively unchanged in the same period, up only by 0.2 percentage point, according to the survey.

Moreover, the height, weight and chest circumference of both male and female students in all age groups have seen improvements. Their lung capacity, strength, speed, flexibility and stamina have also been improved, while the malnutrition rate has steadily decreased, the survey said.

Wang Dengfeng, head of the ministry's department of physical, health and arts education, said that the improvement was due to a series of education policies aimed at enabling students to get more physical exercise.

The recent guideline from the central authorities to reduce the tutoring and homework burden of primary and middle school students is also intended to provide time for more students to engage in sports, he said, adding that all students should be equipped with one to two sports skills.

Despite the progress made in the overall health of students, the myopia and obesity rates of young students remained high and the fitness of university students has not improved much, Wang said.

All primary and middle school students are encouraged to have one physical education course every school day and are encouraged to have two hours of physical exercise daily, he said.

Hao Fenglin, an official with the ministry, said the fitness of students in rural areas has also seen notable improvements and the gap in height, weight and lung capacity between urban and rural students has been narrowed.

Rural students perform better in the long jump, 800 meters and 1,000 meters than their urban counterparts, thanks to continued poverty alleviation efforts and increased investment in teaching, sports venues and facilities in rural areas, he added.


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