Checking the rear view mirror of China’s rise: Urbanisation and public health concerns over the creeping obsolescence of physical activity in China’s time-compressed concrete jungles.
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China’s Expanding Life Spans—and Waistlines
By Christina Larson
Source – Bloomberg, published June 11, 2013
Over the past two decades, China’s population has grown richer, older, more urban—and fatter. From 1990 to 2010, public health authorities in China made significant progress in stemming several of the medical challenges common in poor countries, including reducing childhood mortality and rates of infectious diseases. However, China’s population now faces additional health pitfalls exacerbated by urban smog, more sedentary lifestyles, and the rise of KFC (YUM) and cheap fast food.
In short, China’s public-health challenges now look more like America’s, for better and worse. That was a main finding of researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Peking Union Medical College, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which published a collaborative paper on public health in China in the June 8 issue of the British medical journal the Lancet. Their findings draw upon data in the World Health Organization’s 2010 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study.
From 1970 to 2010, the average life span for men in China climbed 12.5 years (to age 72.9). The average lifespan for women climbed 15.5 years (to age 79). A major factor behind these gains has been a steep drop in childhood mortality, due in part to improved neonatal and maternal care. In 1970, 100.6 children out of a thousand died in China before they reached age 5; by 2010, that number had dropped to 12.9 deaths per thousand. (Meanwhile, even as people are living longer, fewer are being born: The average number of children born to each woman in China dropped from 4.77 to 1.64 over those 40 years.) The result is a quickly graying country.
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