While 24 million people in China live in abject poverty and suffer malnutrition, 60 million Chinese are obese, a nutritional health expert has said.
Pan Beilei, deputy director with the government-affiliated State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee, said at an ongoing conference on food consumption and health in Beijing that unbalanced diets have led to various health problems.
"An increasing number of Chinese are eating more fat and junk food but less grains and vegetables, leading to a high number of cases of high blood pressure and diabetes," Pan said.
Statistics show that about 160 million Chinese have high blood pressure and 20 million have diabetes.
Pan called on the government and academic organizations to give some dietary guidance to citizens.
The widening wealth gap is also to blame for regional diet difference. Narrowing the regional income gap will help improve the diet of citizens in poverty-stricken areas and make them more healthy, Pan said.
There are other signs to illustrate the fact that Chinese are getting bigger. Chinese airlines are being forced to rearrange their seating following a burgeoning number of complaints from overweight passengers about the uncomfortable, ill-fitting seats.
A source with China Eastern Airlines said the company imported most of its aircraft from overseas where people were generally bigger. But now, the company plans to reduce the number of seats on the new Airbus 321 by about 20 to create more room.