A special weight loss course was introduced for students at a university in eastern China as obesity becomes a major health care and social issue because of a change in life style fuelled by rapid economic development in the past 30 years, mainland media reports. Zhou Quanfu, a teacher at Nanjing Agricultural University in Jiangsu province, said students with Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, above 30 needed to enrol for the course, Modern Express reports. Explosion in childhood obesity in China ‘worst ever’, expert says of new study findings Obese students would need to take three or four weekly physical exercise lessons, including jogging, fast walking, plank and sit-up, over the next six weeks. Zhou plans to motivate the students by taking them out for hikes. They were encouraged to take part in a 5-km race in the first international marathon held last December. Students need to count their calories daily and follow a healthy diet. The credit for the course depends on their weight loss. 62 million people in China obese, sparking fears of ‘alarming’ financial burden Zhou said the idea of opening a weight loss course came up four years ago when he conducted a survey among freshmen and sophomores in the university, and found that about 13 per cent of them were severely obese, with BMI over 40. The results, he said, was a body blow for both the school and students. Rapid social and economic change in the past 30 years in China has been accompanied by nutritional changes, which has made obesity a growing threat to the population. Weight loss theory debunked – exercise a bigger weapon against obesity than diet In a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology late last month, researchers in eastern China’s Shandong province found that one in six boys and one in 11 girls in its rural areas were obese in 2014, a dramatic rise compared with nearly 30 years ago, when the rate of obesity among boy and girls were 0.03 per cent and 0.12 per cent, respectively. According to a 2014 study by The Lancet, China has the world’s second largest number of obese people next only the United States, despite a lower obesity rate. China’s obese population was 62 million in 2013, or more than 9 per cent of the world’s total.