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China in urgent demand to regulate health supplement market

(People's Daily Online)    15:21, February 18, 2019

As China’s aging population continues expanding, the country is seeing greater demands to regulate its health supplement market.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the country had over 240 million people aged 60 or above, and they accounted for 17.3 percent of the total population. China has become the world’s largest country in terms of an aging population.

A report done by the China Research Center on Aging indicated that 2/3 of the Chinese aged above 60 lived in unhealthy conditions in their remaining life span. In addition, chronic diseases are also a significant factor endangering the health of China’s senior population, according to data collected from surveys of national health services between 1998 and 2008.

That leaves a huge market potential for health supplement products. However, the lack of proper regulation of the market has led to numerous accidents and even tragedies involving seniors who wish to live more healthily and longer.

Qi Haimei, director of the research institute of geriatrics under Beijing Hospital, introduced a real incident. A senior Chinese citizen surnamed Sun, who has suffered from diabetes for years, started taking health supplement pills allegedly able to cure her illness upon her friend’s recommendation.

Though the pills controlled her blood glucose, she was later diagnosed with liver cancer, as the food supplement contained iron and materials reducing blood sugar which led to iron deposition in her liver.

Most of the seniors are troubled with chronic diseases and failing body functions, which all require long-term medication. That is a characteristic of geriatric illnesses which is incurable. “Many senior citizens don’t know this and are easily cheated,” Qi said.

A 2014 media survey showed that only 9 in 103 TV programs on regimen met standards, while the rest were about advertising. Apart from that, some so-called “mighty doctors” and “regimen experts” were even promoting fake medicines on these programs.

A survey by the National Health Commission indicated that 14.2 percent of Chinese citizens had proper knowledge of health, and this group was steadily expanding. However, the overall knowledge of health amongst Chinese citizens is still at a relatively low level, with regional and urban-rural differences.

Scholars suggested that the country carry out promotion activities to have the public know more about health, medical services, regimen plans, and halt the dissemination of “fake science.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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