China is facing severe levels of obesity and rising rates of chronic illness with over half of its adults overweight, according to a government report released on Wednesday. Researchers surveyed more than 600,000 people across the country in a four-year study from 2015 and found an increase in obesity in all age groups. “The issue of obesity is unceasingly apparent, and the onset of chronic illness continues to rise,” National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin said. “The problem of unhealthy lifestyles is universal.” Coronavirus more likely to kill men and the obese, study says The share of people who are overweight is still lower in China than in many developed countries but the rates are rising quickly. In 2015, the commission found that just over 30 per cent of adults were overweight, up more than 7 percentage points from 2002. The World Health Organisation classifies Asians with a body mass index of 23-24.9 as overweight and those with a BMI of 25 or above as obese. In the United States, over 70 per cent of adults are overweight, with over 40 per cent obese, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Li said that the increase in obesity was linked to people dining out more often, and children consuming more sugary drinks. Over 10 per cent of children under six were obese or overweight, while 19 per cent of adolescents between the ages of six and 17 were in the same categories. He said there was a corresponding rise in diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The research was conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Centre and the National Centre for Cardiovascular Diseases. The UK is most obese country in western Europe, OECD finds For Beijing mother Nancy Zhu, the issue is personal. Her nine-year-old son’s weight has continued to rise over the last year, something she attributed to his appetite and lack of exercise. “My son has been chubby since he was an infant. He always has a good appetite,” she said. “Every evening in the past six months, we spent time skipping rope, running or swimming. He is stronger, but still overweight. “My parents, relatives, teachers and kind strangers blame me for his obesity.” Wong Chi-ming, from the department of health technology and informatics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said while the incidence of obesity was lower in China than in the US, t he sheer number of people affected meant the problem was severe. Wong said the increase was likely because of changes in lifestyle brought by higher incomes. “For lifestyle, [it’s] mainly due to diet, for example they eat too much, eat calorie-rich foods and do not exercise,” he said. Wong said the government should work to promote healthy lifestyles and to develop safe anti-obesity drugs.