China’s Expanding Life Spans—and Waistlines

At Bloomberg Businessweek, Christina Larson describes a paper from the latest, China-themed issue of The Lancet medical journal, which shows that China’s health problems increasingly resemble those of developed countries.

Over the past two decades, China’s population has grown richer, older, more urban—and fatter. From 1990 to 2010, public 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 pitfalls exacerbated by urban smog, more sedentary lifestyles, and the rise of KFC (YUM) and cheap fast .

[…] At the same time that young children in China are generally healthier—with fewer premature deaths from neonatal causes, diarrhea, pneumonia, and infectious diseases—new ailments are increasingly befalling the country’s middle-aged and elderly populations. On the rise: premature deaths from stroke, heart disease, traffic injuries, , liver , colorectal , and diabetes. Several—but not all—of these conditions are related to urban living, changing diets and lifestyles, smoking, and exposure. [Source]

Shanghai Daily reports that one person is now diagnosed with cancer every ten seconds in China (compared with one every twenty in the U.S.), a rate expected to rise by a third by 2020.


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