Obesity Challenge in the People’s Republic of China
Excess weight is one of the most frequently discussed topics and challenges in modern times, appearing in different doses in virtually every location. According to the World Health Organization, an average of four million people die each year in this epidemic (2021). It is also noteworthy that if obesity was mainly faced only by highly developed countries in the past, today, this problem is eminent even in developing and the least developed countries (WHO, 2021). 1.9 billion adults were classified as overweight in 2016, and 38.3 million children under five were deemed obese as of 2019 (WHO, 2021). These figures are even more alarming given the very serious and sometimes catastrophic consequences of obesity. This paper discusses obesity in the People’s Republic of China and argues that this health challenge has reached dangerous levels in the concerned country and requires immediate attention.
Pathogenesis of the Health Issue or Disease
Obesity is a global challenge of the twenty-first century, and in addition to the issue of physical appearance, it brings health damage to many people around the world. China is no exception, where obesity is gradually coming to the fore. For decades, only environmental conditions have been considered the cause of abdominal and general obesity in the Chinese population, although the current reality is more complex. A national representative survey found that low winter and very high summer temperatures, high density of restaurants and grocery stores in residential areas played a significant role in the discussed process (Zhang et al., 2020). In addition, other factors such as increasing concentration of PM2.5 in the air, gender, and a level of education are now named as determinants for obesity levels (Zhang et al., 2020). The causes of obesity, as is evident, are numerous in the case of China and combine both the environment and many other factors independent of it. The importance of the discussed health issue is gradually gaining prominence. The country of economic boom and already a great global power, China, goes beyond health limits in terms of obesity.
The issue of obesity becomes even more acute against the fact that this problem is increasingly evident in children’s category. To be more precise, from 1985 to 2000, the obesity rate of the 7-18 age group increased fourfold in China, and in the first five years of the 21st century alone, 21.7% of Chinese children in the 2-18 age category were already overweight (He et al., 2018). According to the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, more than 50% of Chinese young adults and 34,6% of adults are overweight, and 16,4% are deemed obese (2020). In addition, children and youth are at risk for obesity, with 20% of youngsters and 10% of children under six considered overweight (National Health Commission, 2020). The leading causes of this disease are unhealthy diet and static life rhythm, which is compounded by the increase in the number of nutrients and calories available to Chinese citizens (National Health Commission, 2020). These figures are alarming and have led to the mobilization of Chinese society and government to tackle the already national problem of obesity.
China’s economic progress and at least reducing the gap between rural and urban living standards in terms of nutrition have shown some opposite results. Sugar, oil, and salt occupy a prominent place in the daily diet of a typical Chinese person. At the same time, the amount of vegetables is disproportionately small, which requires raising awareness at the public and individual levels (National Health Commission, 2020). Added to this are the benefits of a technological advancement simplified life, which massively pushes the population towards less movement because there is no real need for it. This challenge is especially evident in the youth age group, and social media plays a significant role in this. Gradually decreases the desire of young people for personal interaction from people, because it is already convenient and straightforward through technologies. The combination of an unbalanced and unhealthy diet and the described lifestyles have brought China to exactly where it is today.
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics
|Age Category||Percentage of Overweight/Obese Population|
|Population 18+||50% +|
|Adult 20-25 (Overweight)||34,3%|
|Adult 20-25 (Obese)||16,4%|
Note. Data obtained from the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China
In conclusion, the People’s Republic of China is currently at the dangerous stage of obesity, and it is necessary to pay great attention to this challenge. For achieving the desired result, it is vital to unite the society and the government, raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and introduce the proper diet. As already discussed above, the Chinese people and China as a whole are not alone in this battle. Countless people around the world are facing the same challenge. Obesity is a kind of epidemic that gives rise to many other types of diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, blood clots, cardiovascular problems, breathing difficulties, etc. With all this in mind, it is easy to see the danger massive will pose for the state’s welfare. Nevertheless, any challenge, including that of obesity, can be addressed with united, purposeful efforts to achieve beneficial results.
He, Q., Li, X., & Wang, R. (2018). Childhood obesity in China: Does grandparents’ coresidence matter?. Economics & Human Biology, 29, 56-63.
National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. (2020). Nation’s waistlines continue to grow, report says. Web.
World Health Organization. (2021). Obesity. Web.
Zhang, X., Zhang, M., Zhao, Z., Huang, Z., Deng, Q., Li, Y., Pan, A., Li, C., Chen, Z., Zhou, M. & Wang, L. (2020). Obesogenic environmental factors of adult obesity in China: a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Environmental Research Letters, 15(4), 044009.