The National Health Commission recently issued a report on nutrition in which it warns that more than half of the adults, and 20 percent of those aged between 6 and 17 in the country are overweight or obese, and chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver, are becoming public health threats.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, issued a National Nutrition Plan (2017-30) in 2017 to improve national nutrition and health. The plan requires governments and public health departments of various levels to improve their regulations and standards on national nutrition, promote legislation and policy and scientific research, develop technologies, and strengthen monitoring and assessment to prevent nutrition-related diseases, and inspire the people to adopt healthy lifestyles.
However, the public’s awareness on healthy cooking and nutrition-balanced meals the plan advocates remains weak in general, as the consumption of oil, salt and sugar in processed foods in the country is still high.
The authorities should attach more significance to filling the rural-urban nutrition gap. While spreading and popularizing nutrition and health knowledge in the cities, they should also address the malnutrition of the low-income rural population. It should not be forgotten that tens of millions of the rural population that have just been lifted above the poverty line－about $2 a day per person－are still in dire need of nutritious food.
As such, special programs should be launched targeting the nutrition of infants, pregnant women, students, the elderly, patients in hospital and people living in poorer regions, promoting healthy lifestyles, especially the balance between food and exercise.
The rise of the digital economy also poses new challenges. Last year, about 500 million people on the Chinese mainland ordered 17.12 billion takeouts, an increase of 7.5 percent from the previous year. So the boom of takeout business means more and more people are surrendering their autonomy on how much oil, salt and sugar are used in their meals.
Additionally, some of the 5.69 hours the Chinese people spend fiddling with their cellphones each day on average could have been spent on physical exercise. Not to mention the damage the universal overwork can do to people’s health, or the limited numbers of exercise sites and facilities accessible to the people in their neighborhoods.
The country still has a lot to do before the people have an ideal waistline.