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Chronic diseases spike in Beijing youth

By Pang Qi (China Daily)

14:05, June 16, 2012

More young people in Beijing are being diagnosed with chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol) due to unhealthy lifestyles, a report by the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau (BMHB) has found.

The diseases, which typically increase in incidence with age, have spiked among young people, according to the Beijing Municipal White Book on Health 2011 issued Thursday.

According to the report, 18.4 percent of men aged between 18 and 30 suffered high blood pressure last year, while nearly one-third of men aged 30 to 40 have the same condition. Among females, 30 percent aged between 40 and 50 have high blood pressure.

Xu Jun, a nutritionist with the China Nutrition Society, told the Global Times Friday that young people now eat out frequently to socialize, causing them to ingest more salt and oil than is healthy.

Poor diet combined with irregular eating and sleeping habits have led to the spike in cases, Xu said.

The blood fat levels in more than half of men aged between 18 and 30 were abnormal, with this rate exceeding a quarter of women in the same age range, said the report.

The paper warned that chronic diseases have now become a major threat to Beijing residents due largely to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol.

"Many young people these days prefer sweet drinks and desserts, and have bread with cream or butter. If one doesn't exercise adequately, these fats are unable to metabolize, which results in weight gain," Xu said.

The report also found that more residents from Beijing's rural areas are overweight than those in urban areas.

Just over 40 percent of rural residents are overweight, while 22.6 percent are regarded obese.

In urban areas, the figures are 36.2 percent and 20.5 percent respectively, the report found.

Xu said part of this trend could be attributed to rural residents having higher incomes than in the past and blindly imitating the lifestyles in urban areas, while also having a lower awareness about the importance of leading an active lifestyle. Xu cited the case of a 9-year-old girl in Miyun county in Beijing, who was diagnosed with diabetes after habitually being given sweet drinks by her parents from an early age.

Fang Laiying, director of BMHB, said at a press conference on Thursday that Beijing's aging society and the city's fast-paced lifestyle placed intense psychological pressure on people in the capital, leading them to neglect their physical health.

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