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China Daily Website

Obesity among school children increases in China

Updated: 2013-09-11 10:22
( English.news.cn)

The Chinese perception that fat children are healthy could be linked to China's alarming rate of obesity. Children often lack the important knowledge about proper nutrition and the dangers of eating to excess. To reduce this obesity epidemic, nutritionists are calling for the cooperation of schools, parents, lunch enterprises and the Government to cope with China’s serious nutrition imbalance.

White rice, chicken, tofu, celery and mixed vegetables.

Lunch menu for some of Beijing’s primary and secondary students.

A balanced meal with 1200 calories, as suggested by China’s food pyramid.

School lunch supplier Ma Baogui said, "We use traditional and natural ways to cook. We don’t use any preservatives, which is good for students’ health."

Ma says the students love his recipes and the price is affordable - at about a dollar 40 to a dollar 50 US per box plus free refills. But what’s healthy and natural isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Student said, "I don’t like the nutritious lunch. It doesn’t satisfy my appetite."

Some students unknowingly adopt unhealthy habits.

Nutritionist & educator Wang Changqi said, "The students eat whatever they like. They either don’t eat or they overeat."

Their favorites? Food high in fat, sugar and preservatives. Their aversions? Fish and vegetables.

An imbalance in nutrition. And China’s students are getting fatter and fatter.

In Beijing alone, 230,000 people under 18 are now obese. An increase of seven percent over ten years. 5th graders in the capital, with the most cases of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

But as long as parents believe that fat kids make healthy kids, experts say China is still at risk of higher obesity rates.

Reporter: “Until now, China still has no law regulating nutrition in schools. And there’s a huge lack of professional nutritionists. Without the two components, it’s really up to the parents to decide what’s healthy and what’s not? But as long as parents believe that fat kids are healthy kids, health experts say China will remain at risk of higher obesity rates."

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