Latest research from China CDC shows obesity in China tripled in the past 15 years | Updated: 2022-05-18
The National Center for Chronic and Noncommunicable Disease Control and Prevention of the China CDC, together with other co-authors, published an article titled “Body-mass index and obesity in urban and rural China: findings from consecutive nationally representative surveys during 2004–18” in The Lancet. It focuses on the long-term and recent trends in mean BMI and prevalence of obesity among Chinese adults.
The National Institute for Nutrition and Health of the China CDC, Imperial College London, Oxford University, Beijing Temple of Heaven Hospital, and Fuwai Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (Shenzhen), among others, jointly conducted the research.
In the article, the research team presented detailed analyses of relevant data (height and weight of 650,000 adults aged 18-69) from six consecutive nationally representative health surveys done between 2004 and 2018, and assessed how these trends might vary by sex, age, urban–rural locality, and socioeconomic status. The following are the findings of the study.
1.From 2004 to 2018, the mean BMI of Chinese adults showed an overall upward trend, but after 2010, the growth rate of average BMI of Chinese adults slowed down, and the growth rate of average BMI was half of that from 2004 to 2010. Similarly, the annual increasees in overweight rate and obesity rate after 2010 were slightly lower than those before 2010.
2.From 2004 to 2018, the mean BMI, overweight rate and obesity rate of men increased faster than those measurements for women. In 2004, the mean BMI, overweight and obesity rates of men were lower than those of women, but after 2010, this situation completely reversed, and the mean BMI, overweight and obesity rates of men were higher than those of women.
3.In urban and rural areas, different trends have been observed in mean BMI, overweight rate and obesity prevalence, especially among women. From 2010 to 2018, the growth rate of mean BMI, overweight rate and obesity prevalence of adult men and women in urban areas of China slowed down; while the increases in mean BMI, overweight rate and obesity prevalence of men in rural China were slightly lower than those in urban areas, but those of women in rural China continued to rise steadily.
4.In 2018, about 85 million adults aged 18 to 69 in China were obese, among which, about 48 million were men and 37 million women. From 2004 to 2018, the number of obese people nearly tripled.
5. Among women, the mean BMI of adults with a high education level was consistently lower than that of people with a low education level, and the mean BMI level decreased with the increase of education years, but it was the opposite for men.
Interpretation: In China, the rise in mean BMI among the adult population appears to have slowed down over the past decade. However, the research team found divergent trends by sex, geographical area, and socioeconomic status, highlighting the need for a more targeted approach to prevent further increases in obesity in the Chinese general population.
We need to continue to monitor long-term trends and patterns of change. At the same time, we should formulate accurate prevention and control strategies and measures for different regions and populations to curb the further growth of adult obesity, and especially to pay more attention to the prevention and control of obesity in the rural population.