Chinese diets increasingly ‘high fat, high energy and deficient in key micronutrients’

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Obesity

Public health messages should focus on promoting more balanced diets, researchers said. ©iStock
Public health messages should focus on promoting more balanced diets, researchers said. ©iStock
Greater dietary choice in China is leading to excessive energy intake and obesity among adults, a cross-sectional study of adults in the southwest of the country has found.

The study used data from more than 1000 people who took part in the 2011–2012 National Nutritional Survey in Yunnan Province.

Data of three consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls was used to calculate dietary diversity scores (DDS) and nutrient adequacy ratio (NAR). Body mass index and waist circumference were used to determine nutritional status.

“With the latest cross-sectional data from National Nutrition Survey in southwest China, findings of this study indicated positive associations between DDS and general obesity as well as central obesity in adults,”​ wrote academics in the journal Plos One​.

“Findings of this study highlighted the increasing risk of obesity due to unbalanced diets along with increasing dietary diversity. This study also showed the inadequate intake of some important micronutrients even for participants with high DDS."

Being female, younger, belonging to Han ethnicity, and having higher educational level and household income were linked with greater DDS.

It was also found that as DDS increased, consumption also increased among all food groups except grains and vegetables.

“People with medium and high DDS ingested more energy than the recommended quantity,”​ they stated.

They also found that intake of calcium and vitamin A were seriously inadequate, even among people with high DDS.

Obesity epidemic

People with medium and high DDS were at a higher risk of obesity, they added.

“Between 1991 and 2011, among Chinese adults, the prevalence of general obesity dramatically increased from 3.5% to 11.8%, and has doubled from 20.4% to 44.0% for central obesity,”​ wrote the researchers.

“This trend is driven by a range of factors, especially a remarkable shift from traditional diets to high-fat and high-energy diets over the past decades.”

The paper concluded that while dietary diversity is widely recommended, it was creating widespread health concerns,

“Our study indicates that energy and protein deficiency is no longer a prominent nutritional problem in southwest China, instead, the inadequate intake of micronutrients deserves further attention,”​ they added.

“In general, diet in southwest China is shifting towards a high-fat, high energy-density and poor-micronutrients dietary pattern.”

Source: Plos One

“Diet diversity and nutritional status among adults in southwest China”

Authors: Qiang Zhang, et al.

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