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Children's Health Not Improved by Increase of Family Income

A new report shows that the rate of malnutrition among Chinese children has dropped as family incomes have increased, but the children haven't become healthier.


The report by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that rising family income has had a big impact on children's diet and lifestyle.


The report, based on a survey covering 57,437 students aged between 6 and 17 in both urban and rural areas, shows that the malnutrition rate for children of families with a monthly income of less than 800 yuan (about US$104) is 70 percent higher that for children from families with a monthly income of more than 10,000 yuan (nearly US$1,300).


In addition, children in high income families are more likely to engage in regular physical exercise than those from families with lower incomes.


Despite this, children from wealthy families are not healthier than those from poorer families, according to the report.


The proportion of overweight children is 2.6 times higher in families with a monthly income of over 10,000 yuan than in families with a monthly income of less than 800 yuan.


The rate of obesity in the richest group is 3.6 times higher than the poorest group. The higher overweight and obesity rates increase the chances of chronic diseases.


It is also reported that children whose parents earn comparatively high salaries spend more hours in the classroom, watching TV and playing computer games, but do not get enough sleep.


More than 73 percent of children from the richest families lack sleep. Urban children sleep less than rural children, according to the report.


Ma Guansheng, a researcher with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that if no effective measures are taken, the health picture for Chinese children will darken, with problems of malnutrition among children in poor families coexisting alongside a high incidence of chronic diseases among children in rich families.


Hu Xiaoqi, another researcher, said a system to monitor the nutrition and health condition of Chinese children should be set up to conduct regular investigations.


(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2007)

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