Chinese children are 6 centimeters (2.34 inches) taller and roughly 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) heavier than 30 years ago as a result of the country's improved economic situation and better nutrition, according to national research published by the Ministry of Health on Saturday.
The survey shows that the average height of 6-year-old boys rose from 112.3 centimeters in 1975 to 118.7 centimeters in 2005. Girls kept pace with their average height reaching 117.7 centimeters, 6.2 centimeters more than in 1975, the survey said.
The survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health every ten years since 1975, was carried out over five months from May to October 2005 and polled over 138,775 children in urban and suburban areas of nine major cities: Beijing, Harbin, Xi'an, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou and Kunming. Of the participants 69,760 were urban residents and 69,015 live in the suburbs.
The taller children are posing unexpected "problems" for city transport authorities. In June this year the municipal government of Beijing had to revise the height under which kids get a free bus ride from 1.1 to 1.2 meters.
The free bus ride height in Liaoning Province -- where people are taller than in the rest of China -- has gone up to 1.3 meters.
Children living in suburban areas used to be much shorter than their city cousins. Now the difference is down to 2.6 centimeters from 4.9 centimeters, the survey said.
The national survey also found that children weigh more than they did 30 years ago, said Yang Qing, director of the Department of Maternal & Child Health Care and Community Health under the Ministry of Health, at a press conference.
A boy's average weight in 2005 was 21.7 kilograms, up 3 kgs on 1975 and girls tipped the scales at 20.8 kilograms, 2.7 kgs heavier, he said.
The extra weight is not all muscle. The yawning wealth divide in China means that the number of overweight and obese children in cities is rising sharply while in the countryside -- especially in remote western regions -- many children are undernourished.
China has developed at a blistering development pace in the last three decades since embarking on the road of reform and opening up.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2006)