Chinese political advisors have called on the people to eliminate the ignorance of nutrition, which they claimed has led to an unbalanced nutrition structure and economic losses.
"The fact that a large number of Chinese do not acquire necessary knowledge about nutrition and food is even more serious than illiteracy in the country," said Peng Jiarou, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body that is in a ten-day annual session in Beijing.
The major problem in food consumption is that people take excessive amount of meat and greasy food, which provides 35 percent of the total energy one needs, and cereal food contributes only 47 percent, compared with the level of 55 percent to 65 percent recommended by the World Health Organization, said Peng, also a health expert with China's prestigious Beijing University.
"The public nutrition level always influences national economic development to a big extent," said Feng Ping, another CPPCC member attending the session held in downtown Beijing.
The loss of labor productivity caused by malnutrition in developing countries accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of their gross domestic product, Feng quoted a World Bank analysis as saying.
According to the standard, China is expected to sustain a direct loss of 400 billion yuan to 680 billion yuan (US$49-84 billion a year).
Irrational diet has resulted in a rapid growth of some chronic diseases among urban residents in China.
According to a national survey of Chinese people's nutrition and health conditions, there are more than 160 million people suffering from high blood pressure and over 20 million suffering from diabetes, and more than 200 million adults are overweight.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2006)