Spike in childhood obesity in China may be due to economic growth

In China, one out of every five children is overweight or obese, up from just one in 20 in 1995, and the nation’s booming economy might be driving the increase, according to a new study.

The study found that during the past two decades of rapid economic growth in China, childhood stunting and thinness has declined, according to a March 19, 2019 CNN article. But at the same time, there’s been a fourfold increase in the number of overweight and obese children.

Experts quoted in the article suggested that, as family incomes grow, children are spending more spare time in front of computers or TVs and are eating more junk food.

Lindsay Jaacks, assistant professor of global health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, said the findings are worrying.

“The importance of this finding cannot be underestimated, considering evidence that excess weight gained in childhood is carried into adulthood and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers,” she wrote in a commentary published alongside the research in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read the CNN article: One in five Chinese children is overweight or obese, and the booming economy may be to blame, study reveals

Read a Lancet press release about the study and about Jaacks’ commentary: Economic growth linked to reduction in stunting and thinness, but rise in overweight and obesity in Chinese children and adolescents