The Perception Gap Of Childhood Obesity In China

A nationwide survey indicates a mismatch between the rise of obesity in China and children’s perception of being fat.

AsianScientist (Oct. 16, 2018) – Childhood obesity in China may have nearly tripled, but only two percent of children consider themselves fat, according to survey findings published in Obesity.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight in adulthood and also tend to suffer from conditions such as diabetes and heart disease at an earlier age. Despite the serious health impact of childhood obesity, not much is known about how children themselves perceive their weight.

In a study of over 4,600 children aged between 6-17 years old, researchers from Ball State University, US, analyzed data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey collected between 2000 and 2011. They found that while the prevalence of childhood obesity nearly tripled from 6.5 percent to 16.8 percent during that period, children’s perception of being fat remained constant at about two percent.

The study also found that 49 percent of children underestimated their weight status at the start of the study. Children who perceived themselves as being fat at the start of the study had a higher increase in body mass index over time than those with an average body image. Boys, young children and rural children had higher body mass index increases than their counterparts. Over time, a thin body silhouette became more desirable.

“Resolving negative body image among children could bring great self-motivation toward a healthy lifestyle,” said lead author Dr. Min Jungwon.



The article can be found at: Min et al. (2018) Mismatch in Children’s Weight Assessment, Ideal Body Image, and Rapidly Increased Obesity Prevalence in China: A 10‐Year, Nationwide, Longitudinal Study.

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Source: Wiley; Photo: Shutterstock.
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