Statistics show that Chinese women are 'fatter' than ever before. But most have no idea how to exercise - and would rather take diet pills, fast and play on their phones instead, according to an article published on the Telegraph recently.
Today, an average woman in China is 1.57 meters tall and weighs 57kg - 1.7kg heavier than a decade ago.
While 57kg might not seem much by Western standards, it is a dramatic change given the short time span in which it's occurred.
A 2009 study showed that British women's weight had increased by 2.5kg from the 1950s. While China does not have an adult obesity problem, yet, there is a worrying trend in child obesity and experts have already warned of "an emerging epidemic". Last year, the Lancet reported that 46 million adults were overweight or obese in China – 27 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men.
Western women see beauty in strength, while “being thin and weak represents femininity and beauty in China", says the article. Even with weight loss being the primary motivation, most Chinese women still opt for 'softer' exercises such as brisk walking, yoga and dancing. Anything that builds strength, or muscle definition, is considered unattractive and masculine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has a big influence on perceptions of the female body and what it's capable of physically. Many in China believe that strenuous exercise is actually bad for women – based on the idea that a woman's body is intrinsically weaker than a man's and requires special nurturing.
The article comments at last that Chinese society is clearly having a hard time accepting that women are fatter. It's happened so fast that attitudes have not had time to catch up.