A national study has found that smoking an addiction affecting 24 percent of the Chinese population is still one of the greatest dangers to people's health.
The behaviour and lifestyle report said that male smokers, who number 300 million on the Chinese mainland, are a US$350 million burden to the national economy.
The report found that the average male smoker consumes 20 cigarettes a day, and noted that women smokers account for 2.8 percent of the whole female population.
Control on smoking faces a huge challenge, especially in rural areas, said the "the Behaviour and Lifestyle Investigation Report: Nutrition and Health Situation of Chinese Residents" published yesterday at the People's Daily.
The report, penned by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on data collected by the ministries of health, science and technology, and the National Bureau of Statistics in all the 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the Chinese mainland.
The report noted that currently only 14 percent of Chinese residents do regular exercise, citing a figure of 24.6 percent among urbanites and 10 percent of rural dwellers.
"Among people who regularly do exercise, young and middle-aged people account for the lowest percentage, while senior citizens make up the highest. This is quite the opposite of the situation in Western countries," said the report.
Only 31 percent of children aged between 6 and 12 sleep for more than 10 hours a day, while 41.4 percent of teens aged between 13 and 17 sleep for nine hours a day, the study showed.
Commenting on the report, Health Minister Gao Qiang said the next two decades will be a key period in improving the nutrition and health of the nation. Without proper intervention from the government, the current situation will only worsen.
Poor health and illness may "bite the achievements in economic and social development," he said.
The study found that out of the 3.2 percent of people that do not eat breakfast, more young people and city dwellers are guilty of the unhealthy practice than the older generation and rural residents.
The report urged people to eat more coarse food grains and tuber crops such as potatoes and yams. It found that more than 40 percent of people do not eat coarse food grains while 16 percent do not eat tuber crops. Meanwhile, more beef, mutton, poultry and sea food will help, said the report.