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J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(10):859-64. doi: 10.1007/s12603-013-0343-x.

Regional and urban-rural disparities in prevalence of over-weight among old people in China: evidence from four Chinese provinces.

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  • 1Xiaomei Pei, Department of Sociology, School of Humanities and Social Science, Tsinghua University, P.R. China, 100084. E-mail:



This study is a systematic analysis of regional and local (urban-rural) rates of over-weight among elderly people in China. The primary goal is to update the different trends in over-nutrition by gender and location among elderly Chinese.


Data used for this study were obtained from the comprehensive longitudinal data collected in the most recent waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey in 2000 and 2006. Comparative data on four provinces, two located in the poorer west (Guangxi, Guizhou) and the other two located in the richer east (Jiangsu, Shandong) were selected from the nine provinces of China participating in the survey. The study population included elderly adults aged 60 years or older interviewed during either of the two survey waves. A total of 1996 individuals (998 in 2000 and 998 in 2006) aged 60 years or older made up the sample for the analysis. We compared changes in body mass index (BMI) with changes in the prevalence of over-nutrition across the 6 years.


The mean BMI values observed ranged from 20.8 kg/m² to 23.2 kg/m². The prevalence of over-weight ranged from 10.5% to 39.0% in both surveys. There were increases in the prevalence of overweight that were greater than the reduction in the prevalence of underweight among Chinese elderly people. Elderly people in the eastern regions and in urban areas were significantly more likely to be overweight compared with those in western regions and rural areas.


This study found that the rates of overweight in elderly Chinese increased overall between 2000 and 2006. China must act quickly to curb continued increases in overweight and the associated economic costs, with particular focus on target groups.

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