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China has become one of the healthiest countries in the world in just two decades

A major new study by The Lancet found a dramatic decrease in illness in China over the past two decades.

Shoppers on the famous Dongmen Street in Shenzhen, China
Shoppers on the famous Dongmen Street in Shenzhen, China
Image: Shoppers in China via Shutterstock

CHINA HAS BECOME one of the healthiest countries in the world in just two decades, according to a major new study by medical journal The Lancet.

Researchers found that Chinese people now spend more of their life in good health compared to people in the 19 other biggest economies in the world – including the US, UK, Japan and Brazil. They also found that the incidence of many illnesses and disorders dropped by 60 per cent between 1990 and 2010.

Over the same period, premature deaths of children dropped by a massive 80 per cent.

However the report also noted that poor diet and smoking has led to increases in strokes, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and road injuries.

“The speed of decline in numbers of premature deaths resulting from infectious diseases and neonatal causes in China over the last two decades could provide a model for other developing countries,” said Professor Gonghuan Yang of the Peking Union Medical College, one of the lead authors of the report.

However, she warned that there are still problems which need to be solved, including “rising rates of HIV infection, and tackling disease burden and child malnutrition in some poor provinces, where the burden of communicable diseases is still high.”

A separate report for The Lancet found that China has 5.7 million people with Alzheimer’s disease – the highest number of any country in the world.

As China is the most populous country in the world with 1.34 billion people, the figures are not surprising. But the report notes that that the figure is unexpectedly high – previous limited reports suggested much lower rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia in China – and expresses concern about how China’s demographics may cause problems for older people with dementia. Young adults migrating to urban areas from rural backgrounds mean large numbers of elderly people in rural regions are left living alone.

Read: Pregnant women ‘should avoid ready meals, shower gels and new cars’ >

Read: Junk food TV ad ban to begin in September, but cheese is excluded >

Read: The 10 developed countries with the worst quality of life >

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