China’s child obesity problem ballooning – study

GENEVA, May 21, 2008 (AFP) – Child obesity is ballooning into a big problem in China as ‘little emperors’ are increasingly getting an appetite for the Western couch-potato way of life, according to a study presented in Geneva. Almost one in five children under seven is overweight and more than seven percent are obese, according to a study of the Chinese National Task Force on Childhood Obesity, presented at the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Health Organisation.

“These numbers are higher than in European countries, while the gross domestic product in China is much lower,” said Ding Zongyi, who led the study.

“Only the United States have higher rates,” he added.

The Chinese experts looked at 80,000 children from 11 major cities, and found an increase of 156 percent in the numbers of obese children between 1996 and 2006.

Meanwhile, the number of overweight children grew 52 percent.

Obesity is defined as 20 percent above the normal weight versus height ratio, while overweight is 10 percent above.

“This rate of increase has gone out of control,” Ding told AFP, underlining that the obesity rate has exceeded economic growth.

What tipped the scales were social changes that came along