China eyes healthy food, environment to help curb childhood obesity

Updated: Sep 20, 2023 Xinhua Print
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CHENGDU -- Healthy food and urban environment are of far-reaching importance for China to curb the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents, Li Ning, a food safety expert, said on Thursday.

Li made the remarks at a symposium held in Chengdu, the capital city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, on the influence of the urban environment on the health of minors.

The overweight and obesity rate had climbed to 19 percent among the population aged between six and 17 years, data in 2022 shows, which means approximately one in every five children and adolescents lives with the health problem in the country. The figure was 18 percent in 2015.

Long aware of the harm of this global issue, China has vowed to bring the rising trend of childhood overweight and obesity under effective control in a national program for child development through 2030.

Experts said at the symposium that science-based diets are considered the most cost-effective to intervene in overweight and obesity development.

They called on the public to reduce their consumption of salt, edible oil, and sugar in their diets and during their cooking and help children develop the concept of living a healthy life.

Over the past few years, China has regulated food security and nutrition management at schools, carried out plans on child and adolescent obesity prevention, and released dietary guidelines for school-age children, among other efforts to improve the diet and nutrition of children in the country.

The Healthy China Initiative (2019-2030), a national document on population health improvement, advised children and adolescents to master the skills of selecting food and creating balanced recipes, have breakfast daily, and choose fruits, nuts, or yogurt as snacks between two meals.

While stressing that obesity prevention is a global challenge and requires international cooperation, Tian Jianxin, a food safety expert with the National Health Commission, said China will continue to improve its policy and regulations, develop new ways and content to grow public awareness, and strengthen monitoring and assessment.

The symposium was co-hosted by the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, the Chinese Nutrition Society, and UNICEF China.

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