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Battle of the bulge comes to China

China has recently been labeled as the most obese country on earth. Here, we take a look at this claim and what can be done to fight obesity rates in the country.

Posted on Apr 20, 2016 by Rob McBroom

When reading about obesity and the ever increasing waistline, many people will be quick to assume that all of the news and concerns are US focused, and for the past decade this has largely been the truth, but that is all starting to change. For example, according to a report from the WHO released in 2015, "About 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) were obese in 2014." This figure alone is rather alarming, but add in the fact that 39% of the world's population is considered overweight, and it is clear that this is a worldwide problem. The question is, is this affecting people in China too?


China's "growing" problem

China has come a long way since its emergence as a world power in the late 20th century. The country has gone from one of the poorest on earth to one of the world's largest economies with the largest middle class in the world. This rapid growth hasn't come without out issues however, one such issue is that has stemmed from multiple issues like longer work hours, lower quality food, etc. is that the number of overweight and obese people in China has increased.

In fact, in a recent study released by the Lancet, it was found that there are 43.2 million obese men and 46.4 million obese women in China. This translates to approximately 16.3% and 12.4% respectively of the world's total number of obese people. While these numbers may raise a few eyebrows, what we find interesting is the fact that these percentages are the highest of any nation included in the study.

Combine this with the data from the last study, which was conducted in 1975 and found that the number of obese men and women in China were 0.7 million and 1.7 million respectively, and we can see a dramatic increase in a relatively short period of time that is predicted to only become larger.


The impact of obesity on health

Upon hearing these figures the first reaction many people have had is that the figures make sense. After all, China is the most populous nation in the world, nearly 5 times larger than the US, so it makes sense that there are more obese people in China. But it is the percentage of the total number of obese and the growth in this percentage that should be worrying as it highlights a trend that obesity is quickly becoming a major problem in the country.

Health experts have found that those with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) are at higher risk of developing chronic diseases including:

  • Heart disease and stroke

  • Diabetes

  • Some forms of cancer

  • Musculoskeletal disorders

  • Gout

  • Breathing problems

Combine this with China's relatively poor air quality, and increasingly sedentary lifestyle and it is expected that the prevalence of the above conditions will skyrocket in the near future. Add increased prevalence of disease, and hospitals will become increasingly crowded and care could become even more costly.

This not only means that if you are obese in China, you will face a higher chance of developing a disease related to obesity, but you will be facing increased wait times and higher charges for care.  


Avoiding the bulge

Luckily, for the vast majority of people, obesity is manageable and even reversible. There are a number of things you can do to avoid the bulge:

  • Maintain or reach a healthy weight - If you are overweight, it would be advisable to strive to reach a more healthy weight. This is different for males and females, your height and your race. For example, the health body weight for a caucasian male who is 6.0 feet will be different than the healthy weight for a Chinese female who is 5 feet 5 inches. It is advisable to talk to a doctor to learn your ideal weight.  

  • Get more exercise - Aside from helping to lose weight, or maintain weight, regular exercise is widely known to help reduce the chances of developing many chronic diseases. Most experts believe that at least 150 minutes of sustained elevated heart rate (above your resting heart rate) a week can help. This includes anything from fast walking to lifting weights, to riding bicycles, etc.

  • Eat a better diet - Many dishes in restaurants have started to use a variety of pre-packaged goods, and high-fat ingredients that are cheap, not to mention a lot of salt. This can result in weight gain and increased obesity. Experts recommend eating a healthy balanced diet of fruit, veggies, and low-fat foods in small portions. With exercise, this can help people reduce their weight.  

  • Reduce consumption of certain liquids - Alcohol and sugary drinks like colas have a ton of sugar and carbohydrates in them. Drinking these in large amounts has been proven to contribute to weight gain, so it is best to avoid them as much as possible.

Finally, if you are overweight, it is strongly recommended that you consult with both your doctor and a trained nutritionist before implementing any changes to your diet or routine. For example, if you are obese and start running 10k every day you are far more likely to hurt yourself.

It is also a good idea to secure health insurance as visiting the doctor can be costly in China, and care for any diseases that may develop because of obesity will certainly be expensive. Contact the experts at Pacific Prime China to learn more about our plans today.


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