A study published Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology revealed an alarming impact of junk food in rural Chinese children’s diet. Researchers found high rates of obesity among this group due to a diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates.
The study’s survey was conducted throughout 29 years in China’s eastern Shandong province. The paper states that nine percent of girls and 17 percent of boys younger than 19 were reported to be obese in 2014’s survey. That means rates have increased from under one percent for both genders in comparison to the survey from back in 1985.
Joep Perk of the European Society of Cardiology described the findings as “extremely worrying” and said it was the worst soaring obesity in children and adolescents he had ever seen.
For this study, researchers analyzed data from six government surveys of about 28,000 rural school children between the ages of seven and 18 in Shandong. Their standard is different from the measures of Body Mass Index (BMI) – a ratio of weight-to-weight squared – used by the World Health Organization (WHO).
While researchers used a stricter cut-off of 24-27.9 for overweight, and 28 and above for obese, the UN standard considers a BMI of 25-29.9 as overweight, and from 30 upwards to obese. Perk clarified that these difference makes it difficult to compare the results to other nations, but affirmed it didn’t invalidate the obesity trend found within China.
Most likely causes of childhood obesity in China
“China has experienced rapid socioeconomic and nutritional changes in the past 30 years,” researcher Ying-Xiu Zhang of the Shandong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed in a statement, as reported by Global Post.
— SCMP News (@SCMP_News) April 27, 2016
In contrast to general habits embraced in the past, the Chinese are eating more today and have become less physically active, the study co-author said. For example, people in the country have changed the traditional Chinese diet for a Western one that is rich in calories and fat, and low in fiber, Zhang commented.
French obesity expert David Nocca attributed the problem to excessive consumption of American junk food and sugary drinks.
Boys may be getting more obese than girls due to a ‘societal preference’ for males
There is speculation among the study authors that boys could be receiving a larger part of the family’s resources due to a “societal preference” for males, which may explain the higher prevalence of obesity among boys. In addition, antibiotics could have also played their part in the increasing rates for childhood obesity in China.
Researchers find link between antibiotics overuse and childhood obesity in China. https://t.co/ATjuhgc0if
— Yanzhong Huang (@YanzhongHuang) February 22, 2016
According to a National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance conducted in 2005, about 4.3 percent of boys frequently enjoyed soft drinks, compared with 2.7 percent of girls. The findings also revealed that 4.3 percent of girls spent more than two hours per day playing videogames, in contrast to roughly 13 percent of boys.
Source: Global Post