Obesity and mental illness on top of health concerns in Chinese youth

2024-04-19 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Obesity, myopia and mental illnesses have overtaken infectious diseases and injuries as the top health concerns confronting Chinese children and adolescents in the past three decades, according to a review of national surveys and data that was published on Friday.

The overall health condition of young people in China has significantly improved as the all-cause mortality rate among people aged five to 19 had dropped from 77.73 per 100,000 people to 27.79 from 1990 to 2019, according to the study published online by the medical journal The Lancet.

In 1990, the high prevalence of contagious diseases and incidents such as road injuries and drowning used to be the top killers of youngsters in China.

While these threats have been effectively tackled, the report said that new health burdens including excess weight, poor vision and mental health have emerged, according to the study led by a researcher from Peking University's Institute of Child and Adolescent Health.

From 1995 to 2019, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among those aged 7 to 18 jumped from 5 to 24.2 percent, and the rate of poor vision, including myopia and other vision problems, rose from 41.2 to 60.7 percent.

Mental health issues have also appeared to be increasingly prominent but access to professional mental counseling and treatment has remained insufficient.

Meanwhile, amid a declining age of first sexual intercourse and a rising incidence of risky sexual behaviors, the study found that adolescents are in urgent need of sexual and reproductive health education.

The study proposed a raft of measures that will involve multiple government departments, families, schools and children and adolescents themselves to address emerging health challenges.

These recommended strategies are aimed at building supportive and responsive families, safe communities and engaging and respectful learning environments, it said.

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