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Beijing to start weight control program in schools


08-06-2016 05:22 BJT

Rising living standards and processed food have created what some consider an obesity epidemic among young Chinese.  Beijing authorities are set to launch a weight control program in junior and high schools. Schools are required to take screening and preventive measures. Omar Khan has more about how serious the problem is.

Ten-year-old Xi Xi is facing health risks, which her parents had never thought could be an issue.

"She used to live with her grandma when she was very young. A bigger child is a source of pride for grandma. We give her whatever food she likes, including snacks, drinks and staples," said Qian Qian's Mother.

Doctors say that's the primary reason behind the rising number of children with weight problems in recent years.

"I advise parents not to feed children too much.  Chinese people are very accustomed to feeding children like stuffing ducks, even when the children have no appetite," said Dr. Wu Yujun from Beijing Children's Hospital.

Doctors say the problem is worse when children are brought up by grandparents.  The older generation think less exercise is better to avoid injury.

Still, parents are told while exercise is good, not to overdo it.

"They are still in the process of growing up, so the exercise time should not be increased sharply.  We suggest a ten percent increase each week," said Guo Jianjun, researcher of General Sports Administration.

Official data shows that from 2014 to 2015, nearly 16 percent of children in primary and middle schools were obese. The obesity rate has increased by nearly 6 percent from the previous 5 years.

"If their weight can't be controlled, they are very likely to be obese as adults. Potential risks such as diabetes and high blood pressure will affect their life in the future," said Dr. Wu Yujun.

The price of childhood obesity is not just in the costs and pain of children now, but the health of the future labor force and society as whole.

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