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Chinese children face obesity risk

69186639_e78742d08a_zWith the parents gone away, the children have time to play — and eat, according to new research that examines the health of the millions of Chinese children left with families when their parents move to urban centers.

Researchers from the University of Manchester in England analyzed the dietary choices of 975 children from 140 rural villages. Led by graduate student Nan Zhang, the team found children living with their grandparents or a single parent ate more fat and less protein than children living with two parents. The research appeared in Public Health Nutrition.

The diets of boys particularly worsened, a finding that has complex implications in a society where males are favored, Zhang said in a news release.

The study did not examine why the childrens’ diets changed, but Zhang has several theories. From the release:

The researchers speculate that mothers moving away from home generally earn less, and that these lower earnings act in combination with grandparents’ poorer dietary knowledge or willingness to spend more on food…

Another factor at work could be that prices of protein-based foods such as eggs and meat have increased faster than many households’ incomes.

The study highlights the need for increased public education on nutrition, she said.

Previously: Building the case for a national hepatitis B treatment program in China, Seeking solutions to childhood anemia in China and  “We should act now”: Stanford expert calls for more targeted anti-obesity policies
Photo by T Chu