Study Site: Shanghai, China
Institutions: Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Principal Investigator: Dr. Xu Lin
Co-Investigator: Dr. Sun Liang
The study in Shanghai was the first project of the GNET group, and more information can be found in this 2009 article from the Harvard Public Health Review.
China at a Glance
Area: 9,596,961 sq km
Median age: total 36.7 years
Urban population: 50.6% of total population
Life expectancy: male 73.09 yr ; female 77.43 yr
Diabetes prevalence: 96.3 million cases, 9.32% (national prevalence)
Per capita GDP: $9,800
Language: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, and other minority languages.
Diet and culture
China is a vast and diverse country and styles and tastes of Chinese cuisine vary by class, region, and ethnic background. Traditionally, Chinese cuisines were more plant-based with various vegetables and soy products, and stir-frying, the most common method to cooking vegetables became a way to conserve original flavor of foods by cooking food quickly. Historically, most people, especially members of the upper class, preferred food prepared in smaller pieces, readily picked up and eaten with chopsticks. Meat was typically cut into smaller pieces and then mixed with other ingredients like vegetables or noodles; while larger pieces like whole chicken or ham were used in stews. Rice remains a major staple food, particularly for those living in southern China. The Chinese word for rice is “fan” which also means “meal.” Rice may be served with any meal, and is consumed 2-3 times a day. Modern staple foods include white rice, noodles (made with rice or wheat flour), corn, potato, a variety of vegetables including bok choy, green beans, Chinese spinach, Chinese broccoli and watercress as well as soy products like tofu and soy milk.
- Zhang G, Pan A, Zong G, Yu Z, Wu H, Chen X, Tang L, Feng Y, Zhou H, Chen X, Li H, Hong B, Malik V, Willett WC, Spiegelman D, Hu F, Lin X. Substituting white rice with brown rice for 16 weeks does not substantially affect metabolic risk factors in middle-aged Chinese men and women with diabetes or a high risk for diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition 2011 Sep;141(9): 1685–90
- Zhang G, Malik V, Pan A, Kumar S, Holmes MD, Spiegelman D, Lin X, Hu FB. Substituting brown rice for white rice for diabetes prevention: a focus group study in Chinese adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2010 Aug; 110(8):1216-21.
The World Factbook, 2013-2014. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013.
IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th Edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2014.
Batis C, Sotres-Alvarez D, Gordon-Larsen P, Mendez MA, Adair L, Popkin B: Longitudinal analysis of dietary patterns in Chinese adults from 1991 to 2009. British Journal of Nutrition. 2013:1-11