China plans to reduce obesity, overweight among children

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Many countries have begun taking measures to curb obesity which not only affects the population’s health, but the country’s economy. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The National Health Commission, along with five other national departments, recently issued an implementation plan for the prevention and control of obesity in children and adolescents. The overall goal is to reduce the average annual growth rate of overweight and obesity among children aged 0-18 years by 70 percent from the current baseline from 2020 to 2030.

In 2018, experts from the National Health Commission reported that 16 percent of Chinese children and teenagers are overweight or obese. At the same time, the overweight and obese rates in children and adolescents are higher in boys than girls, and higher in cities than in rural areas. 

The plan specified that teachers should not run overtime or hold classes early, ensuring that students have breaks and appropriate activities. Parents should reduce children’s use of electronic screens, and schools should avoid foods high in sugar, fat and salt. Primary and secondary school students must be guaranteed at least three hours of vigorous physical activity per week.

After the plan was released, some netizens expressed their opinions on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform.

“Teachers should not be blamed for obesity. Each school should have its own nutrition and health advisor, rather than holding teachers accountable,” one netizen commented.

In recent years, due to the changes in diet and lifestyle, together with heavy school loads and spreading popularity of electronic products, the number of overweight children has risen rapidly, and obesity has now become a threat to children’s physical and mental health.

A few months ago, doctors at the clinical nutrition department of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University treated a 10-year-old boy who had fatty liver disease. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood. Overweight and obese children are more likely to remain obese into adulthood and to develop noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age.

“Although it’s important for teachers and schools to help, parents should not spoil their children or feed them high-fat, high-calorie foods,” one netizen commented, receiving more than 4,000 likes.

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