New research shows that behaviors that promote wellness in America might be part of unhealthy lifestyles abroad
Healthcare professionals usually endorse a balanced diet plus regular exercise as the formula for fitness. Surprising new research from the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, however, suggests this may not hold true in China, where such healthy habits coexist with a sharp increase in the country's number of overweight and obese children.
"I hadn't seen any data ever—and I've seen lots of data—to show that eating fruits and vegetables, for example, is related to higher weight," says Donna Spruijt-Metz, a coauthor of the study and an expert in pediatric obesity.
For the study, published in the current issue of The American Journal of Health Behavior, Spruijt-Metz and her fellow researchers analyzed cross-sectional survey data on food-intake frequency from 9,023 middle and high school students and one parent from seven large cities in China. They found that sedentary activities, such as watching TV or using the computer, were related to greater odds of being overweight, just as in the U.S. More interestingly, they also uncovered several unexpected behaviors that were correlated with higher incidences of being overweight, including more vigorous exercise, less candy and fast food intake, less frequent snacking, more fruit consumption, and higher parental educational attainment.