BEIJING, June 14 -- More than 60 per cent of high school students in Beijing are suffering from high blood pressure, it has emerged.
Du Songpeng, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, revealed the figures at a closed-door working conference on Sunday.
About half of the pupils at middle schools in the capital also have high blood pressure, he added.
Du warned teaching staff that academic learning and achievement should not be at the expense of pupils' health.
The statistics Du cited were from the commission's 2005 health report on local students, which has not been released officially.
Li Baoyuan, a professor at Beijing Normal University, criticized schools for concentrating too much on students' academic achievements, though physically, at least, they appear to be growing normally.
A recent study by the Beijing Municipal Physical Science Research Institute shows children aged 6-18 are growing steadily in terms of height, weight and chest measurement.
Li said students' worsening health was as a result of doing less sport.
He urged that students' health status should be taken into consideration as part of the school's year-end performance evaluation system.
Short-sightedness, physical weakness and obesity, as well as high blood pressure, were listed as the most common health problems for students in the study.
In Guangdong Province, an increasing number of children are overweight, sources with the Guangdong Provincial Education Bureau said.
A survey conducted by the bureau last year showed that nearly 11 per cent of children in the province are overweight.
In the provincial capital of Guangzhou alone, the number of children who are classified as overweight is 200,000, accounting for 15 per cent of the total.
As a result, children are being urged to pay much attention to their diet and to take more exercise.
"Irregular eating habits, such as skipping breakfast and having too much fast food, are linked with being overweight or obese," said Liu Li, a doctor with the Guangzhou Children's Hospital.
Liu said that the number of children with obesity problems who came to her hospital during summer vacations has been rising steadily in recent years.
Besides heart disease and liver conditions, overweight children also often suffer with psychological problems, she said.
"Children who are overweight are often reluctant to talk to others, which harms their psychological development," said Liu.
(Source: China Daily)