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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
China warned over rising obesity
By Jill McGivering
BBC News

An overweight Chinese toddler
The number of obese children has increased dramatically
People in China are becoming overweight at an alarming rate, a Chinese medical professor has said.

Professor Wu Yangfeng said that in the 15 years between 1985 and 2000, the number of overweight and obese children increased 28-fold.

He made his comments in a special China edition of the British Medical Journal.

The edition also looks at the impact of China's one child policy, the increase in chronic disease caused by smoking and lessons learned from Sars.

Growing problem

China used to be seen as a country with a lean population, but not any more.

Today a fifth of the world's overweight and obese people live in China - and the numbers are rising dramatically.

Professor Wu Yangfeng said this posed a considerable health problem, calling on the Chinese authorities to act now to prevent further increase.

There seems to be a range of underlying causes - from changes in diet to reduced levels of exercise and a rapid increase in the use of cars.

One article in the special edition of the British Medical Journal looks at the impact of passive smoking on the health of Chinese women. That is seen as a particular problem because far more Chinese men smoke than Chinese women.

Another looks at the long term impact of China's one child policy. Despite some of the atrocities associated with it, says one editor, the bottom line is that there was pain for one generation but there is some gain for the next.

And on the Sars crisis, the president of the Chinese Medical Association says China has learnt important lessons - to be honest with the public about what was happening, for example, and to involve health professionals in developing policy.

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