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Grandparents largely to blame for China’s spiking childhood obesity

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Grandparents largely to blame for China’s spiking childhood obesity

Related tags Obesity

Grandparents largely to blame for China’s spiking childhood obesity

Chinese grandparents have had a significant impact on the growing level of childhood obesity in the country, a study has found.

Published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, the research covered four communities in the cities of Guangzhou and Hechi, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. 

It concluded a lack of nutritional knowledge among grandparents led them to perceive that fat children were healthier than thin ones. 

As a result, they tended to overfeed youngsters in their care and excused them from taking part in physical exercise. 

It is increasingly commonplace in China for parents to entrust their children with their own retired parents, leading largely to a trend that has seen the Chinese become taller and fatter on average over the last decade.

An increase of fat in diets is part of the cause of China’s obesity problems, and almost one-third of adults being overweight in 2012, leading to a rising incidence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, according to the report. 

At the same time, nearly 10% of children and teenagers were overweight, compared with just 5.1% in 2002. 

Microbiota treatment sees dramatic results in obese children

Also on the subject of weight, researchers at a Chinese university have witnessed significant weightless among 17 genetically obese children over the last two years. 

The group was being testing with an experimental gut microbiota treatment.

This is the first successful attempt to control weight of genetically obese children in the world​,” said Zhao Liping, of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“Gut microbiota are likely valid targets for curing genetically children obesity, believed to be incurable​,”

The children, who have Prader Willy Syndrome, lost an average of almost one-fifth of their weight after living in a hospital for three months on diets designed to modulate microbiota.

Scientists cannot agree on the best method for treating PWS, though patients face appetite-suppressant drugs, gastrointestinal surgery or a long-term low calorie diet.

"Appetite suppressants usually don't produce much significant effect, while gastrointestinal surgery often comes with higher risk​," said Zhao.

Zhao added that children with PWS have the same characteristics of imbalanced intestinal flora as those children with simple obesity.

The findings were published in medical journal EBioMedicine.

Mérieux opens microbiota research lab in Guangzhou

Food testing major Mérieux NutriSciences and its Chinese partner Biostime, a premium pediatric nutrition and baby care products, have opened a technical centre dedicated to the study of microbiota.

The pair, which have have worked together in the research of microbiota since 2013, signed a strategic transfer agreement last year to develop a high-performance metagenomics platform in Guangzhou.

A year later, the site is operational with the two companies researching in tandem, said Jean-Baptiste Gay, a Mérieux executive. 

The cooperation with Biostime is a win-win situation for both companies as [we] share the same ambition for quality and excellence, and the same understanding of the interactions between public health and nutrition​,” Gay said. 

Mérieux has opened two other labs in China, with facilities in Shanghai and Beijing opening after its acquisition of Sino Analytica in 2014. 

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