China has experienced an increase in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity over the last decades. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among children in China were approximately five percent and two percent, respectively, in the 1980s. In 2002, 155 million children worldwide were overweight or obese, of which 12 million lived in China.
A new study conducted among school children (age 7-14 years) in Guanzhou City found that more than 11 percent were overweight and seven percent were obese. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome among the children was 6.6 percent overall, 33.1 percent in obese, 20.5 percent in overweight and 2.3 percent in normal weight children. Metabolic syndrome refers to a clustering of specific cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, impaired glucose, elevated blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
“To address the problem of increasing prevalence of obesity and potentially deadly consequences of metabolic syndrome in Chinese children, more research will be needed focusing on the reasons for the increase of overweight/obesity in children and interventions so as to reduce the epidemics of overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome in the population,” the study concluded.
1. Liu WJ, Lin R, Liu AL, et al. Prevalence and association between obesity and metabolic syndrome among Chinese elementary school children: a school-based survey. BMC Public Health 2010; 10: 780. (open access)