What’s causing child obesity in China?

By Alok Joshi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/19 15:48:39

Illustrations: Luo Xuan/GT

I am not a big fan of Western fast food.

Tired after work, one evening I hesitatingly entered a prominent fast food chain restaurant near my home.

I saw many young school-going children enjoying fast food and consuming carbonated drinks.

Some of them were in groups with their school uniforms still on, perhaps returning after their coaching classes. Others were accompanied by their parents or grand-parents. Many of them were over-sized and over-weight for their age.

I was perplexed as to why children of such slim and fit parents could be so unhealthy.

The same nation, which is now the second largest economy in the world, suffered from food shortages just four decades back. Last week I was invited to the Family Day of a big company.

I was again surprised to see so many over-weight Chinese children clinging to their parents.

When I returned home in the evening, my curiosity drove me to research more about this new phenomenon in a country where health consciousness ranks pretty high up on the list of priorities.

According to World Obesity Federation, China is on track to have the greatest number of overweight children by 2025. It has predicted that by 2025 China will have 50 million obese children, more than the US and India combined, where obesity is also a big problem.

According to a study, one out of six boys and one out of 11 girls are obese in China. A child less than 18 years old, with BMI (body mass index) of more than 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 35 is obese.

According to doctors, unhealthy diets and lack of awareness among parents are the main causes of child obesity in China.

The only child in the family is the center of everybody's attention. One of the ways to shower love on this star child is to feed him. Both parents are working and often the grandparents look after them during the day.

Children are glued to their computer monitors rather than working up a sweat on outdoor play grounds. They also think it is fashionable to eat fast food. They don't realize that such foods have very high calories.

Child obesity is prevalent not only in urban areas but also rural cities of China.

For some grandparents, obesity is not a matter of concern. They think whenever the child is hungry, feed him. So, some of the Chinese children are over pampered and over fed.

The problem arises when the obese children grow up and step out of the loving wings of their family. They encounter health concerns, loss of confidence and social rejection.

It is never too late to lose weight, but it is never an easy mission. Weight loss camps for obese children are doing roaring business.

It's time that the elderly in China, who seem to be partly responsible for fueling this obesity problem, are educated about healthy and balanced diets.

The old notion of "chubby child, healthy child" is gone. I hope the nation can make a slimmer and healthier future for its children.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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