You are what you eat, says a Chinese health survey. While Chinese men have grown healthier over the past ten years, obesity problems have also emerged. According to a report analysing Chinese residents’ health and chronic illnesses released this year, all this correlates to their daily nutrition intake.

The report, compiled by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), compared physical attributes of residents in 2012 to those of 2002.

Chinese children. Photo: Creative Commons.

The survey indicated that Chinese males have reached an average height and weight of 167.1cm and 66.2kg, while females average is 167.1cm and 57.3kg.

Wang Guoqiang, vice-minister of the NHFPC, said that these figures have “considerably increased from 2002, especially amongst youth aged six to 17.” He also pointed to the growth stunt rate of 3.2 percent among youth and children, which is 3.1 percent lower than the 2002 figures.

Explaining the increased figures, Wang said that “adequate diets have led to an overall improvement in individuals’ health.” Wang added that the average calorie intake was 2,172, or the equivalent of four servings of fried rice.

Four servings of fried rice is equivalent to the daily calorie intake in China. Photo: Wikicommons.

However, the increased figures also mean a higher obesity rate. The proportion of overweight adults in 2012 was 30.1 percent, with 11.9 percent of residents considered obese – an increase of 7.3 percent and 4.8 percent compared to ten years ago.

Wang said that changes in eating habits have led to the country’s worsening obesity problem. “While carbohydrate and protein intake remain healthy, there is an average of 30 percent excess intake of fat per meal,” he said.

The survey used information obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics between 2002 and 2012, and collated results collaboratively with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.


Paul Benedict Lee

Paul Benedict Lee is an undergraduate law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul has previously contributed to HK Magazine and Radio Television Hong Kong, covering issues ranging from local heritage conservation to arts features. He has also worked as a legal intern at local human rights firm Daly & Associates.