With 40pc of adults in some cities obese, weight loss is now a national obsession Gao Qiang and Liang Yong are two patients at the Tianjin Aimin Fat Reduction Hospital, which uses acupuncture to cure gross obesity. For about 5,000 yuan a month, the pair live at the hospital and attempt to lose hundreds of kilograms of extra weight. 'Being obese has made me very unhappy,' Mr Liang said. 'More than a year ago I weighed over 200kg. Wherever I went, people gathered around me and stared, like they were looking at a weird animal.' The 24-year-old Chongqing native added: 'Now I weigh in at 105kg. My target weight is below 80kg since I'm only 1.53 metres tall.' Meanwhile, Gao Qiang, from Shaanxi, gave up half a year of school to slim down from his former 135kg. 'Obesity has affected my studies and everyday life. I couldn't play with my classmates and I hated myself,' the 16-year-old said. The hospital is one of the first on the mainland to treat obesity. Hospital director Shi Lidong said it had handled more than 40,000 patients over the past decade. 'For the past three years the number being treated has nearly doubled every year,' Mr Shi said. 'There are more and more fat people now, our patients come from all over the country.' In some cities, more than 40 per cent of adults are overweight and at least 5 per cent are obese, according to the International Life Sciences Institute's China branch. Professor Ma Jun, of Peking University's medical school, said the number of overweight children had also grown quickly over the past decade, with 16.2 per cent of male and 10.8 per cent of female students being overweight. Xu Zhining, from the China Obesity Association in Shanghai, said: 'Being obese or overweight can seriously harm a person's health and pave the way for illnesses like high cholesterol or high blood pressure.' As obesity becomes a bigger issue on the mainland, weight loss is becoming a national obsession. The need to lose weight and the desire to stay thin is creating new business opportunities for those cashing on the mainland's growing battle with the bulge. In a recent survey on a domestic weight-loss website, 41 per cent of people said exercise was their preferred way to lose weight. But even more people, 43 per cent of all respondents, said that rigorous diets were the best way to trim fat. And 12 per cent said they used medicine. Mr Xu pointed out that non-health reasons were behind many people's desire to shed extra kilos. 'Many women think extra weight makes them uglier and they have less self-confidence,' he said. In response, the burgeoning weight-loss industry is tailoring itself to the needs of a new era of body-conscious women. Women-only gyms are mushrooming in cities across the nation and the media has been keenly documenting the growing popularity of plastic surgery. Qu Lei is a 1.73-metre-tall woman who weighs 62kg. The 20-something from Beijing, who has just started a regimen of diet and exercise, said: 'Everyone knows that outside appearances are very important to women in Chinese society. I will spare no expense to lose weight and keep slim.' In accordance with the opinions expressed by Ms Qu, a recent survey by China Mainland Marketing Research found many people would be prepared to spend vast amounts of money in order to look good. Many said they were prepared to pay exorbitant sums if a perfect pill was developed that effectively allowed them to lose weight without side effects. Customers surveyed said they often changed diet pill brands because they were not satisfied with the results they were achieving. There are more than 60 kinds of diet pills on the market. China Mainland Marketing Research said the diet-pill business in Beijing alone could generate 900 million yuan in profits in the near future.