Over 41% Chinese male participants diagnosed as overweight: study
Published: Aug 21, 2023 02:12 PM
Locals during morning exercise in Huaian, East China's Jiangsu Province on August 20, 2023 Photo: VCG

Locals do morning exercise in Huaian, East China's Jiangsu Province on August 20, 2023 Photo: VCG

Nearly 35 percent of a group of 15.8 million Chinese adults were classified as overweight, while the prevalence of overweight and obesity was higher in northern China than southern China, according to media reports on Monday, citing a study on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in China. The topic of obesity triggered a wide discussion online on Monday, with many calling for a focus on healthier lifestyles.

A study titled "Prevalence of obesity and associated complications in China: A cross-sectional, real-world study in 15.8 million adults" was published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, a journal of pharmacology and therapeutics on August 17.

The study showed a digital version of the China obesity situation based on the BMI (body mass index) classification of overweight and obesity in the country, with 34.8 percent of the 15.8 million adult participants being considered overweight, and 14.1 percent diagnosed as obese.

Being overweight and obesity were more prevalent in male than female participants, with 41.1 percent of male participants being overweight. The prevalence of being overweight peaked at age 50-54 years-old in males and at age 65-69 years-old in females, according to the study.

The study was based on data obtained from 519 Meinian health check-up centers across 243 cities, with eligible participants aged 18 years-old and above. The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity nationwide were standardized according to the 2010 China census by age group and sex, according to the study.

According to both WHO and Chinese BMI classifications, the prevalence of both overweight individuals and obesity was higher in northern China than southern China, with the highest prevalence seen in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, East China's Shandong Province and North China's Hebei Province, according to the study. 

Experts have noted that several factors have contributed to the high obesity rates in China such as sedentary lifestyles and a decrease in physical activity. Especially in teenagers, instances of being overweight or obese have become one of the serious challenges faced by young people, as it is reported that about 30 million teenagers are dealing with being either overweight or obese. 

The country has recognized the severity of the obesity and has carried out measures to address the rising trend.  In a notice released in July on improving China's basic public health services in 2023, the country has stressed the work in health services on key groups including prevention of overweight and obesity in children.

In 2020, Chinese authorities set a goal of reducing the average annual growth rates of overweight and obese children and adolescents by 70 percent from a baseline in the next 10 years.