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May 3, 2016

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Childhood obesity on rise in rural areas, study says

CHILDREN from rural areas of east China’s Shandong Province are getting fatter, according to a recent study.

The research, which was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, was conducted by the Shandong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention over a 29-year period from 1985 to 2014. It involved 28,000 children, all of whom were aged between 7 and 18 at the time of testing.

According to the study, 17.2 percent of boys and 9.1 percent of girls surveyed in 2014 were found to be obese, compared with ratios of 0.03 and 0.1 percent for the respective groups in 1985.

In the same period, the proportion of children found to be overweight rose to 16.3 percent for boys, up from 0.7 percent, and to 13.9 percent for girls, up from 1.5 percent, said Zhang Yingxiu, one of the document’s authors.

The increase was most noticeable in children aged 7 to 12, he said.

The obese and overweight claims were based on the children’s body mass index readings, with scores of 24 to 27.9 classed as overweight and anything above 28 regarded as obese.

A lack of physical exercise and lifestyle changes resulting from social and economic development were given as the main causes for the spike in the children’s weights.

“Compared with their parents’ generation, today’s rural children are better fed but spend far less time engaging in physical exercise,” said Zhao Jinshan, another of the authors.

“Unlike their parents who ran around having fun and staying fit, many of today’s rural children are couch potatoes,” he said.

Zhao also claimed that people who live in rural areas prefer meat to vegetables, and eat more salty, oily food than those who live in towns and cities.

“Dietary habits are a complicated social issue ... and people in rural areas need to realize the importance of a balanced diet,” he said.


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