The Market for Highly Processed Food and Drink: Driving Children’s Diets
Childhood overweight and obesity in China has been associated with the increase in consumption of highly processed food and drink.
Over the past 20 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children aged from 7-18 years has quadrupled in China though there has been a steady decrease in undernutrition. One in five children (20.4%) was overweight or obese in 2015 and the prevalence is growing among rural children as well as in urban populations. During the same time period, dietary patterns have transitioned from a traditional diet to a modern diet with a high intake of highly processed food and drink. Childhood overweight and obesity in China has been associated with the increase in consumption of highly processed food and drink including wheat products, processed meat and fast food. China is the world’s largest food producer as well as the largest food consumer in volume terms. In addition to its domestic production and in order to meet growing demand, China has been importing more food, a trend which is likely to continue into the future.