Childhood obesity has dramatically increased in rural China. A recent survey showed about five percent of children aged 3 to 7 in rural areas of central China’s Henan Province was obese.
Wei Guozhan is a six-year-old boy in Chayashan County. He weighs nearly 40 kilograms or almost the same as a teenage girl.
He eats more than his grandparents. But they're not concerned and are content giving their grandson whatever he wants.
"We realize he’s fatter than boys his age. And we did try to change his diet. But every time he says he's hungry, we compromise," said Wei Mingbao, Chayashan county.
Wei's parents are busy working in big cities far away, and come home just once a year. Wei's grandparents give him too much food and excuse him from exercise.
Perhaps, it's not the only reason.
We followed rural kids to local stores. Fake brand-name food is seen everywhere. They contain excessive amounts of sugar, additives, and coloring agents.
"My grandson loves to eat all kinds of snacks and popular western-style fast food. We try to satisfy him if he wants. And his mom always brings lots of food and sugary beverages whenever she comes back home," said Wei Yiran, Chayashan county.
"In 2014, researchers conducted a study over 29-years involving 28-thousand children aged seven to 18 in China's eastern Shandong Province. They found 17 percent of boys and nine percent of girls were obese, up from under one percent for both genders in 1985," said Wang Chongjian, professor of Zhengzhou University.
Today, many rural parents, especially the elderly, still believe fat children are healthier than thin ones. They've no idea that obesity leads to poor health. Many experts now urge a change in diet, an increase in physical activity and stricter food supervision in the countryside.