Nearly half of primary and middle school students in Guangdong Province are underweight, due mainly to stress from studying and a poor diet.
A Guangdong education department analysis of more than 8 million students found just 30 percent of all students were within a healthy weight range last year.
It found 48 percent of students are underweight, 12 percent do not have adequate nutrition, 4.4 percent are overweight and 5 percent are obese.
Li Xueming, vice-director of the Guangdong education department, said many students are underweight because they lack adequate rest due to heavy pressure from study.
Many parents do not provide a balanced and healthy diet for their children, he said.
Primary school students need 10 hours of sleep a night and high school students need eight, Li said.
Chen Guohua, a 14-year-old boy studying in his second year of junior middle school, said stress caused by study affected his appetite.
Chen, who is 1.56 m tall, weighs 45 kg, which is lighter than the healthy and normal weight range of 49.9 to 56.8 kg.
"My parents and teachers always urge me to study harder," Chen said.
"I go to bed at midnight and get up at 6 o'clock in the morning from Monday to Friday."
More than 8 million students from 2,309 middle schools and 6,236 primary schools were reviewed after the province adopted the National Student Physical Health Standard last year.
Most schools in the country were required by the Ministry of Education to adopt the standard in 2007.
The standard is based on a combination of factors like height, weight, sex, age and performance on sports tests such as running, jumping, push ups, football and basketball.
All schools are required to keep regularly updated files on students, which could be a factor in deciding if a student is qualified to graduate or be promoted to the next grade.
From the fall semester this year, schools will notify parents of their child's physical health by e-mails and text message.
Schools and parents relieve the pressure of studying from students and said schools should provide a unified nutrition breakfast to students, Li said.
The department will release a white paper on students' physical health once a year, he said.
(China Daily July 15, 2009)