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Ministry tweaks eating guidelines

Wang Xiaodong Updated: May 14,2016 2:57 PM     China Daily

China’s top health authority released a new dietary guideline on May 13, stressing the need for a balanced diet amid rising health threats such as obesity in recent years.

The guideline, a revision of a version drafted in 2007, takes into account the main nutritional problems and eating habits of the Chinese in recent years, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

It lays out a nutritious and healthy diet that will help people maintain health and prevent disease, said Chang Jile, of the commission’s Department for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new guidelines emphasize the benefit of consuming a variety of foods, increases vegetable and dairy consumption and reduces salt and oil, he said.

Compared with the 2007 guideline, it trims the recommended amounts of certain types of foods-such as meat, soybeans and salt-and encourages people to drink more water.

Chinese adults should eat 40 to 75 grams of meat a day, it says, compared with 50 to 75 grams in the 2007 guideline. Recommendations for other foods, such as vegetables, dairy products and oil, remain the same.

The new guideline’s reductions in recommended amounts of some foods, such as meat and soybeans, are in keeping with the latest protein and energy intake standards for Chinese, which advise consuming less protein and energy, said Yang Yuexin, president of the Chinese Nutrition Society.

Although Chinese nutrition has improved in the past years, people’s diet is not totally balanced, said Chang. For example, people consume too much fat and not enough dairy.

According to data the commission released last year, 30.1 percent of Chinese adults (18 years old or above) were overweight in 2012, compared with 22.8 percent in 2002.

The incidence of chronic disease related to improper diet is significant. More than a quarter of Chinese adults suffered from hypertension in 2012, and nearly 10 percent had diabetes, the commission said.

Major dietary problems in Chinese eating habits include the consumption of less cereals and grains and more red meat, while the intake of salt and oil remains too high, the commission said.

In general, Chinese eating habits raise the risk of obesity, but malnutrition caused by insufficient energy intake remains a serious problem in impoverished areas, Chang said.

About 6 percent of Chinese adults are malnourished, and 9 percent of children and adolescents are underweight, he said.

The government has maintained many programs to improve nutrition among children and adolescents in impoverished regions in the past years, Chang said.

Since 2011, primary and middle school students in rural, underdeveloped regions have been entitled to a daily 3 yuan meal subsidy from the government. Nearly 10 million students have been benefited from the program, Chang said.