China's first comprehensive national survey on diet, nutrition and diseases found that 7.1 percent of Chinese adults were obese and 22.8 percent were overweight, Vice Health Minister Wang Longde said Tuesday.
An estimated 200 million of China's population of around 1.3 billion were overweight, Wang said.
"Compared with the nutrition survey results of 1992, the prevalence of being overweight has increased 39 percent and the prevalence of obesity increased 97 percent," Wang said, warning the problem would get worse.
Wang said the government would work with global health organizations to improve nutritional intake and reduce the rate of chronic non-infectious diseases.
The results of the 2002 survey were not revealed until this year because of the time it took to tabulate results due to the large number of people surveyed, more than 270,000, and the large number of counties involved.
The study showed that as the world's most populous country had made progress in reducing poverty in the past few decades, its people were now facing new health issues, arising largely from an increasingly fatty diet.
"The Chinese population does not have enough awareness and lacks knowledge of what is reasonable nutrition and diet," Wang said.
Hypertension rates among adults had reached 18.8 percent, increasing by 31 percent or 70 million cases since 1991 with 160 million people suffering from high blood pressure, the study found, adding that public lacked awareness of the need to seek medical treatment
More than 20 million people were also suffering from diabetes, which affected 2.6 percent of the population, according to the study.
Compared with the information collected in a 1996 survey, the prevalence of diabetes among adults over the age of 20 in big cities has increased from 4.6 percent to 6.4 percent.
Some Chinese people were consuming an excessive amount of meat, oils and fats and not enough cereal, especially urban residents.
Insufficient intake of calcium, iron, vitamin A as well as other nutrients was also a common problem in both urban and rural areas.
With steady economic growth in the past two decades, however, China's people had more protein intake, especially meat, eggs and poultry, and the prevalence of malnutrition and nutrition deficiencies had dropped, the study found.
Source: Shenzhen Daily/Agencies