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Review
, 15 Suppl 1 (0 1), 8-15

China in the Period of Transition From Scarcity and Extensive Undernutrition to Emerging Nutrition-Related Non-Communicable Diseases, 1949-1992

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Review

China in the Period of Transition From Scarcity and Extensive Undernutrition to Emerging Nutrition-Related Non-Communicable Diseases, 1949-1992

S F Du et al. Obes Rev.

Abstract

This study uses unique official data to document nutritional changes in the 1949-1992 period. In 1949, widespread famine, high mortality and low life expectancy dominated. Economic progress was uneven; however, the longer term food supply changed greatly, and hunger was conquered. Diet composition shifted greatly over this period. Cereal consumption, already high, increased from 541.2 g d(-1) (70.0% coarse grains) in 1952 to 645.9 g d(-1) (15.9% coarse grains) in 1992. Consumption of animal-source foods, half of which were pork and pork products, tripled from 30.0 to 103.0 g d(-1). The proportion of energy intake from fat tripled from 7.6% to 22.5%, and that from carbohydrates decreased from 83.0% to 65.8% over the same period. Physical activity was high in all domains, but shifts were beginning to occur (e.g. the initial mechanization of work and the expansion of biking). Nutritional improvement was uneven, including increased undernutrition in the 1959-1962 period and a remarkable rebound and continued improvement thereafter. Overweight emerged only after 1982. Shifts in diet, activity and body composition in 1949-1992 set the stage for major shifts in nutrition in the subsequent decades.

Keywords: Food insecurity; malnutrition; overweight; physical activity.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: None of the authors have financial disclosures or conflicts of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Sources of total energy intake in China, 1952–19921 1Data source: NBS Household Survey
Figure 2
Figure 2
Changes in Z scores of BMI, height for age, and weight for age of 18-year-old boys in Jinan, China, 1956–19921 1Sources: Data for 1956–1972 from Xu and Zhang 1982; data for 1982 from the CNNS 1982; data for 1992 from the CNNS 1992.

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