More than half of China’s adult population are overweight – meaning at least half a billion people, a government report has found.
In 2002 about 29 percent of adults were overweight, but the number have risen significantly in 2020.
A higher body mass increases the risk for a number of diseases including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The issue of obesity has come under renewed focus during the pandemic as studies showed that overweight or obese individuals are more likely to suffer severe complications or death from Covid-19.
The National Health Commission report found that more than 50 percent of adults are classified as overweight, of whom 16.4 percent are obese.
The report blamed decreasing levels of physical activity for the country’s expanding waistlines, with less than a quarter of the adult population exercising at least once a week.
A growing appetite for meat and a low consumption of fruit were also identified as factors behind the rise.
In October 2020, the Chinese government unveiled plans to tackle rising levels of obesity.
Many adults in the country now “exercise too little, are under too much pressure, and have an unhealthy work schedule,” Wang Dan, a nutritionist in the city of Harbin said.
China is not the only country to have seen an increase in the number of overweight or obese people in recent years.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that levels of obesity across the world had tripled since 1975, including in low and middle-income countries.
Almost 40% of adults were overweight in 2016 and around 13% were obese, according to the WHO’s own estimates.
The tiny Gulf state of Qatar is one of the worst-affected countries, with more than 70% of people overweight or obese.
Difference between overweight and obese?
The terms obese and overweight are both used when the body has more fat than what’s considered to be healthy. However, the term ‘obese’ generally means a much higher amount of body fat than ‘overweight.’
Everyone needs some body fat for energy, heat insulation, and other body functions. But having too much can lead to serious health problems. The more body fat you have, the greater your risk for diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and other problems.
Eating more calories than they burn up – poor food choices, lack of exercise, genes – can lead to people becoming overweight or obese.