Obesity rates among Taiwanese children now rival those in the United States with a quarter classed as overweight or morbidly fat, a doctor said Sunday after compiling island-wide figures.
The number of children in Taiwan classed as overweight or obese has surged from six percent a decade ago to 25 percent, not far off US levels of about one-third, said doctor Chu Nian-feng of Shuang Ho Hospital near Taipei.
After amassing health data from across Taiwan, Chu told AFP that as in the West, junk food, sugary drinks and lack of exercise were all to blame.
But Taiwan's academic culture was also a factor with pushy parents keeping their children glued to school books rather than letting them play.
"Ten or 20 years ago, Taiwanese children took in 400-500 calories a meal, but now many kids eat 1,000 or even up to 2,000 calories a meal," said the doctor, whose hospital is part of the Taipei Medical University.
"And they watch TV, play video games and computers. In such circumstances, how can they not become overweight?"
Overweight or obese children have a far higher risk of developing cardiovascular disorders later in life, Chu noted.