Childhood obesity is a more serious problem in the countryside than in cities. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Wednesday said a survey of some 87,000 schoolchildren in 758 schools nationwide last year showed 14.7 percent of them were obese.
In elementary schools in urban areas, 13.9 percent of children were obese but in rural areas 15 percent. The obesity rate of 14.9 percent in middle schools in rural areas was also slightly higher than the 14.4 percent in cities.
The ministry said there are no noticeable differences in school meals in rural and urban areas, so it is likely that healthy eating habits are less encouraged in villages or small towns, where children eat more fast and junk food. The ministry called for a special program to manage the health of youngsters in rural areas.
Out of the total number of students in the study, 1.4 percent were found morbidly obese. It was 14.2 percent in elementary school, 14.6 percent in middle school and 15.6 percent in high school.
The obesity rate of students has been on the rise from 11.2 percent in 2008. Morbid obesity also went up from 0.8 percent in 2008 to 1.3 percent in 2011. The obesity rate was higher among boys with 16.3 percent than among girls with 12.9 percent.
Asked whether they eat fast food at least once a week, 56.9 percent of elementary schoolchildren, 63.5 percent of middle schoolers and 67.7 percent of high schoolers said yes. The figures are slightly lower than the year before. Some 51.9 percent of elementary schoolkids, 31.4 percent of middle schoolers and only 22 percent of high schoolers said they exercise.
The average weight of a boy in sixth grade was 46.2 kg, up 2.3 kg from 43.9 kg a decade ago. But average height also increased from 148.6 cm to 150.6 cm.