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Obes Res. 2003 Aug;11(8):957-61.

Patterns of overweight, inactivity, and snacking in Chinese children.

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  • 1Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #8120 University Square, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997, USA.



To examine patterns of inactivity and snacking and their relationship with overweight status in Chinese children.


The study population was drawn from the 1997 China Health National Survey (1385 children, ages 6 to 11 years), conducted with a representative sample from nine provinces. The 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI charts were used to calculate "at risk of overweight" as those above the 85th percentile. Three days of 24-hour recall dietary data and detailed questions on physical activity and inactivity for the previous 7 days were used.


9.4% of the children were classified as overweight. Weekly mean and range of hours spent watching television/videos, playing video games, studying, and in inactive transport were 5.1 (0 to 35), 0.3 (0 to 10), 4.7 (0 to 60), and 0.14 (0 to 4.2), respectively. Television/video viewing and studying did not differ in any meaningful manner between overweight and normal weight children. Snacking is inconsequential in China, comprising only 0.9% of energy intake.


Chinese children are less overweight, less inactive, and less likely to ingest calories as snacks than children in the U.S. The absence of impact of these measures of inactivity, which are below an hour per day for the average Chinese child, indicate the possible value of limiting television viewing and other types of inactivity in other countries. Modern Western-style television programming and advertising started to come to China after 1997; therefore, extensive changes in television viewing patterns are expected to emerge.

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