The new threat of obesity must be addressed with care and concern – Opinion

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY

Editor’s note: Economic development has changed people’s dietary habits, with a higher intake of high-fat and high-sugar foods leading to an increase in overweight and obese children. A veteran China Daily reporter talks about how to deal with this modern threat.

Obesity was considered alien to the Chinese people. Some of us who were overweight became the subject of jokes, and sometimes envy, when I was young. For many of us, obesity was a problem in developed countries.

Backing up this claim, a recent World Health Organization report said 59 percent of Europeans are overweight or obese, with the obesity rate as high as 25 percent, second only to the United States. The report also said that each year, 1.2 million deaths in Europe are caused by diseases related to obesity or a high body mass index (BMI).

Unfortunately, the Chinese people are rapidly catching up with the developed world in terms of obesity and high BMI. The Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents 2022, published by the Chinese Nutrition Society in April, reported that 50.7 percent of Chinese adults are now overweight and 16.4 percent of them are obese.

To make matters worse, 19% of schoolchildren between the ages of six and 17 are considered overweight or obese, while the rate for preschoolers is 10.4%. Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise are traditional causes of high BMI, the COVID-19 pandemic that confined people to their homes for weeks or months is being cited as a new cause of increase in obesity, because an increasing number of people rely on takeaway from restaurants, many of which serve rich and fatty food.

No wonder “you look thinner” has become the biggest compliment a person can receive when meeting others, and “how to lose weight fast?” the most common question.

Those who do not control their appetite or hate exercise have to pay a very high price to lower their BMI. I have a young friend who had to have a third of his stomach removed to stop eating. He lost 30 kilograms, but paid a high price, both in terms of money and health.

Some others prefer to play it safe: they ask doctors to remove fat from their bellies, hips and thighs. Those who are afraid of scalpels can try the beauty slimming tea that makes people lose their appetite or have stomach attacks.

Many more people are visiting slimming centers that offer traditional Chinese medical solutions for obesity, such as massage, acupuncture, moxibustion and medicinal baths, which has led to a boom in the industry of body slimming services during the last decade Data shows that at the end of 2019, China had more than 40,000 weight loss centers and clinics.

Most troubling to educators and parents is the steady rise in obesity among schoolchildren, which has increased at a rate of 1% per year for the past decade or so. And if this trend is not reversed, the health of future generations will be in trouble.

Since few of the body slimming therapies for adults can be applied to children, the only possible way to prevent children from becoming overweight or obese is to encourage them to play outdoor sports and/or more physical exercise, which is easier in today’s society. said what done

China’s school children are burdened with a tough schedule. It used to be normal for children to go to school at 7:30 in the morning and come home around 9 in the evening. And although their class routines included several PE classes each week and they were required to exercise at least an hour a day at school, students and teachers at almost all schools seemed to have reached an unwritten agreement: too busy with academic work to have time for physical exercise.

To ensure that children spend more time playing sport or physical exercise, central education authorities have taken many measures, such as limiting school hours, making physical education classes compulsory, reducing homework and streamlining extracurricular training courses.

When these measures did not produce effective results, the authorities increased the value of physical education scores for promotion from primary school to middle school, to secondary school and to the national entrance examination university

The new measures seem to be working, as an increasing number of pupils can be seen playing sports in community parks after school to boost their PE scores. Hopefully, in the long run, obesity will have little to do with the Chinese people.

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