Thu, 30 Nov 2023

Beijing [China], September 29 (ANI): China has the world's largest number of people with overweight or obesity and they are expected to cost 10 trillion US dollars a year to the country.

China is among 161 countries whose economies will be affected because of overweight conditions and obesity. According to a paper peer-reviewed and published in BMJ Global Health, the economic cost of the two is expected to rise from 2.19 per cent to 3.3 per cent of GDP in 161 countries.

These findings are from a new study conducted jointly by the World Obesity Federation and RTI International. The study analysed the current economic impact of overweight and obesity and provided the first-ever country-specific global estimate of the economic impacts of non-communicable disease (NCD), mainly due to avoidable healthcare costs of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease attributable to obesity.

Overweight conditions and obesity are common lifestyle problems in China. The Chinese government is very well aware of it but has failed to take effective health measures. Beijing officially participated in the World Obesity Day activity on March 4.

A "Report on Chinese Residents Chronic Diseases and Nutrition (2020)" has made shocking revelations. The report found that more than 50 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of school-age children were overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with increased risks of many chronic diseases and premature death.

It has added enormous health and economic burden on individuals, families and the nation if not tackled effectively. It could seriously hinder the sustainable development of the population and society in China.

For many years, the WHO, the National Health Commission of China (NHC) and other institutions at home and abroad have been fighting the obesity epidemic. World's highest-impact general medical journal, Lancet has stated that the rapid economic growth in China has been accompanied by an alarming rise in obesity.

According to the Lancet journal, the National survey data has suggested that more than half of Chinese adults are now living with overweight and obesity, with obesity rates likely to increase. Under`Health policy and public health implications of obesity in China' the journal has pointed out lifestyle to be the real reason behind the rise in diabetic cases over the last three decades.

In three paper series on obesity in China, Lancet stated that China has experienced many drastic social and economic changes and shifts in people's lifestyles since the 1990s, in parallel with the fast-rising prevalence of obesity. About half of adults and a fifth of children have overweight or obesity according to the Chinese criteria, making China the country with the highest number of overweight or obese people in the world.

Under Epidemiology and determinants of obesity in China, the journal made certain observations in June 2021. Obesity has become a major public health issue in China. Overweight and obesity have increased rapidly in the past four decades, and the latest national prevalence estimates for 2015-19, based on Chinese criteria, were 68 pc for overweight and 36 pc for obesity in children younger than 6 years, 111 pc for overweight and 79 pc for obesity in children and adolescents aged 6-17 years, and 343 pc for overweight and 164 pc for obesity in adults (>=18 years).

Prevalence differed by sex, age group, and geographical location, but was substantial in all subpopulations. Strong evidence from prospective cohort studies has linked overweight and obesity to increased risks of major non-communicable diseases and premature mortality in Chinese populations.

The growing burden of overweight and obesity could be driven by economic developments, sociocultural norms, and policies shaping individual-level risk factors for obesity through urbanisation, urban planning and built environments, and food systems and environments.

Substantial changes in dietary patterns have occurred in China, with increased consumption of animal-source foods, refined grains, and highly processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods, while physical activity levels in all major domains have decreased with increasing sedentary behaviours.

The effects of dietary factors and physical inactivity intersect with other individual-level risk factors such as genetic susceptibility, psychosocial factors, obesogens, and in-utero and early-life exposures.

Under the 'Health policy and public health implications of obesity in China', chapter, the journal made serious observations in June 2021. Assuming that observed time trends would continue in the future, Lancet projected the prevalence of and the number of people affected by overweight and obesity by 2030, and the associated medical costs.

The rising incidence of obesity and the number of people affected, as well as the related health and economic consequences, place a huge burden on China's healthcare system. China has made many efforts to tackle obesity, including the implementation of relevant national policies and programmes.

However, these measures are inadequate for controlling the obesity epidemic. The journal quoted that China has attached great importance to public health in the last decade or so and the Healthy China 2030 national strategy initiated in 2016 provides a historic opportunity to establish comprehensive national strategies for tackling obesity.

China is well positioned to explore an effective model to overcome the obesity epidemic; however, strong commitment and leadership from central and local governments are needed, as well as an active participation of all related society sectors and individual citizens.

Another reputed International Journal of Obesity said China was in the midst of a severely alarming increase in obesity, particularly abdominal obesity. When these increases are combined with the sheer size of China's population, they are likely witnessing an unparalleled development, at least in scope.

The findings of these journals are therefore a stark warning to the Chinese establishment that instead of creating trouble for other countries, it should look inwards and tackle the problems of overweight and obesity. (ANI)

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