Chinese eat healthier, exercise more over health concerns


File photo: Xinhua

Many Chinese people used to greet each other with "Have you had your meal?" to show their friendliness. Recently, a new greeting has emerged in many Chinese cities, namely "Have you lost weight?"

Chen Xin, a mid-level manager of a media company in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, has surprised his friends after successfully getting slimmer. "Following instructions from my nutritionist, I went on a diet and lost 10 kg," Chen said with a satisfied smile.

In recent years, food-delivery services have been growing fast and entering every corner of Chinese cities. Also, Chinese people can easily get access to foods from all over the world. But people are paying more and more attention to their health.

On food-delivery platforms, food labeled with "low calories" and "light food", including wholewheat bread and coarse grain products, are becoming popular. More people are becoming familiar with various terms, such as "sugar cut-off" and "low-calorie Fast Diet plan".

"I used to eat a lot of unhealthy food, which brought me much trouble. My blood lipids, uric acid, and other indicators used to be far higher than normal levels," Chen said. "Now my health indicators are becoming normal, and I can feel that my body is in good condition again."

Chen is not alone. Many Chinese are troubled with "diseases of affluence", including obesity and hypertension, as the quality of life for most has greatly improved over the past decades. Most people no longer need to worry about if they have enough food, but rather if they have a healthy diet.

According to statistics from global market research firm Euromonitor International, the global meal replacement market reached 66.16 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, of which the Chinese market contributed 57.17 billion yuan (about 8.45 billion U.S. dollars). The Chinese market is expected to reach 120 billion yuan in 2022.

Despite healthier diets, many people believe, to lose weight, it is not enough if you only control your food intake. Exercise is also of vital importance.

Jiang Yichen, a consultant at a foreign consulting firm in Beijing, trains in the gym if he finishes work early. "Doing sports provides me with energy, and dopamine gives me a lot of pleasure after I sweat," Jiang said.

Like Jiang, many people are fond of various sports, and some even take fitness equipment home. Products such as body fat scales, fascia guns, and treadmills are among the best selling products on various e-commerce platforms.

Over the past two years, the online consumption of fitness equipment has increased significantly, particularly among women who attach great importance to body management, according to statistics on 2019 fitness equipment consumption on Tmall, an online e-commerce platform of Alibaba.

Many people even like to run marathons. In China's major cities, holding marathons has become a fashion. According to the China Marathon Annual Report, released by the China Athletics Association in 2019, 1,828 marathons were held nationwide in 2019, covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, with 7.12 million participants.

Health is an important manifestation of a state's soft power, and the improvement of overall health conditions can have a positive impact on economic development, said Wang Hufeng, a professor at the School of Public Administration of the Renmin University of China.

"China will succeed in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, with health becoming a huge industry," said Li Hua, deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Sports Bureau.

"Health is a major issue of concern for the Chinese people. It is also an important part of the public's sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security," said Wang.