by Xinhua writers Xia Ke, Wu Wenxu and Lyu Qiuping
BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Meng Hua, 31, has long been anxious about his body shape. Despite carrying an unhealthy body index -- 175 cm height and 82 kg weight -- he was not determined to lose weight until he was recently diagnosed with fatty liver, high uric acid and hyperlipidemia.
The alarming health conditions have prompted him to follow a fitness regime. He has now hit the gym, working out regularly, and goes swimming two to three times a week.
Meng's job of being a video editor requires him to follow a sedentary lifestyle. He admitted that the overweight problem has bothered many colleagues and it is not just limited to females. "Obesity has become a common phenomenon among middle-aged men," he said.
According to an official report on Chinese residents' nutrition and chronic diseases published in December last year, overweight and obesity rates of Chinese residents aged 18 and above are 34.3 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively. As for men, the average weight of those aged 18 and above reached 69.6 kg, 3.4 kg more than the level in 2015. By comparison, the average increase in weight among women was 1.7 kg.
Compared with women, men are reluctant to express their feelings. Under the pressure of work and society, middle-aged men are more likely to hide their anxiety involving their body shape, or shrug it off as a joke, experts noted.
A 2021 online survey of some 2,000 men aged 23 to 30 found that 59.6 percent had mild anxiety about body shape while 23.3 percent had severe anxiety. Big bellies, short heights and poor postures are among the major factors that bother men most.
Under such circumstances, more and more middle-aged men start working out. According to a report on China's fitness industry, despite the impact of COVID-19 last year, when the number of fitness clubs dropped by 10 percent, the number of members in fitness clubs across China rose by 3.2 percent to 70.29 million.
Shi Xiao, manager of a Beijing-based gym called 18 Fitness, said some 40 percent of their members are middle-aged men. "They are the ones who show up and work out here most," Shi said.
In addition to exercise, Meng Hua also pays attention to his diet -- more vegetables and fruits and less carbohydrates.
He also tried weight loss products, such as herbal tea. "I suffered from serious diarrhea after drinking this tea, so I gave up," he said.
Ding Bingjie, a senior nutritionist at the Beijing Friendship Hospital, Capital Medical University, said balanced intake of nutrition through food is a must for health, as long-term nutritional deficiency could affect the body's function.
"If you want to lose weight, you should appropriately reduce energy intake and increase energy consumption through a balanced diet and proper exercises," she said.