Number of obese schoolchildren in China could hit 50 million by 2030, study says

Chinese classrooms have five times as many overweight pupils as in 1985, study claims

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 September, 2017, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 September, 2017, 6:23pm

The number of overweight and obese Chinese schoolchildren could grow to 50 million by 2030 if measures are not taken to halt the upward trend, a university researcher said.

According to the latest figures available, the number of schoolchildren – aged between seven and 18 – rose to 35 million in 2014, from 6.2 million in 1985, reported on its news website on Wednesday.

The figures were taken from a study undertaken by Peking University, children’s groups and public health bodies. Its lead writer was Ma Guansheng from the university.

“If there is no effective intervention, by 2030, there could be 50 million overweight or obese schoolchildren in China,” Ma said. “That would be 28 per cent of the total.”

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The problem is also starting to affect younger, preschool children, Ma said.

“In 1985, there were about 1.4 million children aged under seven who were classified as overweight, but that has risen to about 4.8 million,” he said.

The figures show that obesity is more common among children who live in cities rather than in rural areas, while boys are more prone than girls to become overweight, the report said, without elaborating.

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Children with weight problems are more likely to suffer from health problems such as high blood pressure and raised blood sugar levels, Ma said.

Obesity is also linked to chronic conditions in adults, such as respiratory problems and even cancer, he said.