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Nine out of ten high school students in Xiamen have bad eyesight

Haixia Daobao 29 Sep 12

Kids in Xiamen are apparently some of the unhealthiest in China. As the Haixia Daobao (海峡导报) from Xiamen reports today, nine out of every ten children in Xiamen have eyesight problems, two out of ten are obese, and rates of malnutrition and tooth decay are higher than the national average. These are some of the findings that were revealed yesterday when the education department in Xiamen released a report entitled The Physical Health Situation for Primary and Secondary Schools in the 2011-12 Academic Year in Xiamen (2011至2012学年厦门市直属中小学及区属监测点校学生健康体检情况), which reported data for close to 65,000 students.

The Xiamen education department itself acknowledged that the report makes for depressing reading. Of the ten different health targets that were measured, the school kids of Xiamen showed improvement in only two: increasing height and healthy lungs. For all the other targets it was a negative outcome. The state of Xiamen schoolchildren’s eyesight was especially alarming: 55% of primary school kids had bad eyesight, while the rate for junior high school kids was 82% and that of senior high school students a full 91%. This compares with national averages of 14%, 15% and 12%, respectively. Children in Xiamen not only had problems with short-sightedness (近视), but also more serious afflictions like astigmatism (散光) and amblyopia (弱视).

Eyesight problems are not completely uncommon among high school students, but the incidence of disease and serious problems in Xiamen, according to the city’s education department, has even exceeded rates prevalent in China’s rural areas. The head of the ophthalmology department at the Xiamen No. 1 Hospital ascribed the bad eyesight of Xiamen’s school kids to the increasing use of mobile phones, computers and televisions, especially during holiday periods.

Another area of concern that came out in the report is the number of children that are overweight or obese. Among primary school students in Xiamen, 22% are overweight or obese, while for junior high school and senior high school students the rates are 19% and 16%, respectively. These rates compare badly with national averages of 5%, 6%, and 5%, respectively. The rates of malnutrition and tooth decay among Xiamen school kids are likewise higher than the national average.

The article does not note that Xiamen is one of China’s most prosperous cities. The increasing rate of overweight and obese school kids in Xiamen makes the city a sort of harbinger of a future described in Paul French and Matthew Crabbe’s book Fat China. Danwei did an interview with Paul French in 2010 on the book, please go here to view it.

Links and sources
Haixia Daobao (厦门高中生九成视力不良)