Diabetes, obesity on rise for children in China

BEIJNG (Reuters) - More Chinese children are becoming overweight and prone to diet-related diseases like diabetes due to unhealthy lifestyles and high stress linked to their studies, state media reported on Thursday, citing a top health official.

More than one in five children were classified as obese and over 2 percent suffered type 2 diabetes, the China Daily said, citing a survey of 17,311 children aged eight to 18 by the Beijing Children’s hospital.

Type 1 diabetes, a genetic condition, is the most common form of diabetes in children, whereas Type 2 diabetes is linked with poor diet and a lack of exercise and is far more prevalent in adults.

“The number of children with type 2 diabetes has risen sharply in recent years,” Kong said.

“The figures reflect the trend that the number of children suffering from type 2 diabetes might soon exceed the number of those with type 1 diabetes,” the paper quoted Kong Lingzhi, deputy director of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau under the Ministry of Health, as saying.

There are about 20 million people suffering from diabetes in China, according to the Ministry of Health Web site (

“The number of children with diabetes has accounted for 5 percent of all patients, and it is increasing by 10 percent every year,” Xinhua news agency quoted Li Qiang, an endocrine secretion professor, as saying.

The rise in diabetes and obesity rates in China comes hand in hand with an economic boom that has brought more wealth for families to spend on food and less need to toil in fields for a living.

The World Health Organization and Chinese Health Ministry warned last year that a surge in chronic diseases could kill up to 80 million people in China alone in the next decade.