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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:374-82.

Lifespan nutrition and changing socio-economic conditions in China.

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  • 1Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, China CDC. No. 29 Nan Wei Road, Xuan Wu District, Beijing, 100050 China.



Twenty-five years ago, China introduced sweeping reforms in the structure of its rural economy, family planning program, and financial accountability within enterprises and service sector organizations. A rapid rise in economic productivity has resulted in continuing increases in income and changes to the traditional Chinese diet.


The aim of this study is to examine how the social and economic transformation of China affects dietary patterns and nutritional status of people.


The data from a prospective study, China Health and Nutrition Survey, begun in 1989 and followed up in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004. The population used in this study included 5000 subjects aged 18-45 from 4280 households in nine provinces. Dietary intakes were measured using a combination of the weighing method and three consecutive 24-h recalls. All other data were directly measured or obtained by in-depth interviews.


The average consumption of all animal source foods except milk and eggs increased by 34g per capita per day, while the average intake of cereals decreased by 130g per capita per day. The proportion of animal source protein increased greatly and fat contributed an increasing proportion of energy. However, vitamin A and calcium intake did not increase from their low levels of intake during this period. Child height and weight increased and were linked with a decline in under-nutrition. For example, the prevalence of overweight increased from 11.4% to 22.8% in women and from 6.4% to 25.1% in men in the same period, climbing much faster than before. The rapid shift in diet and obesity linked with social and economic changes in China continues unabated.


In association with the economic reform, the dietary pattern changed rapidly in these years.

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