More than 20 years ago, China adopted a one-child policy. Sounds like a good idea, especially when we're talking about the world's most populated nation. China already boasts more than 300 million children, about 20 percent of the world's child population.
Unfortunately, this forward thinking has resulted in another set of problems. Many of these single siblings are getting spoiled by their loving parents, in the form of high-calorie diets. Essentially, the little tykes are growing out, not up. Five to 10 percent of China's children are now overweight, reports the China Daily, and the percentage is expected to double over the next 10 years.
The problem with all these young kids wolfing down heavy food and not getting any exercise is that the obesity can permanently damage their sex lives.
A visiting professor at the Harbin Medical Sciences University (HMSU) in northern China warns that fat deposits accumulating on the bodies of children aged 7 to 12 may retard the development of their sex organs. Li Jiqi says that in the worst cases, some of the pudgy punks could have difficulty leading normal sex lives and even become sterile.
HMSU professor Bai Qingzhi adds that children who weigh 20 percent above normal could be considered obese. China's chubbies are often tipping the scales at more than 50 percent over the average weight for their age.
Doctors and nutritionists are in the habit of warning that obesity leads to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But overweight children have not been studied closely, especially in terms of their sexual development.
According to Li, obesity-related diseases are occurring in 90 percent of overweight boys and 50 percent of girls. If such corpulence is allowed to continue unchecked, beefy boys could grow up to possess high-pitched voices and feminine-shaped breasts and buttocks. Roly-poly girls could face menstruation disorders and sterility.
Despite warnings from health specialists, it will be difficult to retrain a population that believes in the strong tradition that it's lucky to have a fat baby, says Ge Keyou, director-general of the China Nutrition Institute. The increasing numbers of plump pubescents could make obesity China's No. 1 health threat in the 21st century.
On the bright side, even if two chunky Chinese kids grow up and get married, they're only allowed to have one child.