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Dynamics of the Chinese Diet and the Role of Urbanicity, 1991–2011


Zhai, Fengying; Du, Shufa; Wang, Zhihong; Zhang, Jiguo; Du, Wenwen; & Popkin, Barry M. (2014). Dynamics of the Chinese Diet and the Role of Urbanicity, 1991–2011. Obesity Reviews, 15(S1), 16-26. PMCID: PMC3868998


China's food consumption patterns and eating and cooking behaviours changed dramatically between 1991 and 2011. Macronutrient composition has shifted towards fats, and protein and sodium intakes remain high and potassium intake low. The rapid decline in intake of coarse grains and, later, of refined grains and increases in intake of edible oils and animal-source foods accompanied by major eating and cooking behaviour shifts are leading to what might be characterized as an unhealthy Western type of diet, often based on traditional recipes with major additions and changes. The most popular animal-source food is pork, and consumption of poultry and eggs is increasing. The changes in cooking and eating styles include a decrease in the proportion of food steamed, baked, or boiled, and an increase in snacking and eating away from home. Prior to the last decade, there was essentially no snacking in China except for hot water or green tea. Most recently, the intake of foods high in added sugar has increased. The dietary shifts are affected greatly by the country's urbanization. The future, as exemplified by the diet of the three mega cities, promises major growth in consumption of processed foods and beverages.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Obesity Reviews


Zhai, Fengying
Du, Shufa
Wang, Zhihong
Zhang, Jiguo
Du, Wenwen
Popkin, Barry M.