Obesity prevalence and time trend among youngsters in China, 1982-2002

Y.P. Li, E.G. Schouten, X.Q. Hu, Z.H. Cui, D.C. Luan, Guansheng Ma

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Purpose of present study is to describe the prevalence and trend of overweight and obesity, as well as its coexistence with stunting, among youngsters in China, from 1982 to 2002. Data from children 7-17 years of age from three cross-sectional national surveys: 1982 China National Nutrition Survey (5 334 boys and 4 793 girls), 1992 China National Nutrition Survey (8 048 boys and 7 453 girls) and 2002 China National Nutrition and Health Survey (23 242 boys and 21 638 girls) were used in this study. Overweight and obesity were defined according to age, sex specific BMI cut-off points from the International Obesity Task Force, while stunting was defined as height-for-age below -2 standard deviation from the NCHS/WHO reference median value. Results: Overweight prevalence of Chinese youngsters was 1.2%, 3.7% and 4.4%, while the obesity prevalence was 0.2%, 0.9% and 0.9% in 1982, 1992 and 2002, respectively. Both the overweight and obesity prevalence and their increment were higher among boys in urban areas. In 1982, 28.4% of overweight and 69.6% of obese youngsters were stunted, this decreased to 22.0% and 46.4% in 1992, and then to 5.7% and 7.7% in 2002, respectively. Conclusion: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Chinese youngsters were low in 1982. There has been a rapid increase since then. If this trend continues, overweight will soon reach epidemic proportions. Stunting among overweight and obese youngsters decreased dramatically at the same time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • nutritionally stunted children
  • sao-paulo
  • metabolic-rate
  • overweight
  • brazil
  • shantytowns
  • adolescents
  • inactivity


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