China, Obesity and Internet Addiction

The new pandemic- microbloggig obesity

Chinese scientists collected data on 1,150 middle school and high school students in the city of Xiangtan. Their report says:

The height and body weight of human body were measured and the obesity state was judged according to BMI value and the Working Group on Obesity in China (WGOC) standard… The Middle School Students’ Internet Addiction Diagnosis Scale was adopted for measuring and judging the Internet addiction of the research subjects.

(1) The total detection rate of obesity was 23.57%. (2) The overall detection rate of Internet addiction was 21.23%. (3) The detection rate of obesity in middle school students with Internet addiction (32.92%) was significantly higher than that without Internet addiction (21.06%).

This study definitively tied Internet addiction to obesity in kids of this age group. China has been conscious of Internet addiction for quite some time, and was indeed the first country to label it as such. There is a new documentary about the subject, titled Web Junkie. Like Katie Couric’s Fed Up, mentioned in the previous Childhood Obesity News post, this film was named one of the Sundance Film Festival’s ten best by journalist Amy Nicholson, who said:

Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam’s doc tracks a generation of only children who relieve their loneliness online, and the estranged, high-pressure parents who liken their kids’ video game habits to heroin. Meet the drill sergeants and patient therapists tasked to help these teenagers join the real world — or get locked in solitary confinement.

Brian Brooks also highlights it in his blog:

The feature documentary screening in Sundance’s World Cinema Doc Competition explores internet addiction and spotlights the revolutionary treatment used in Chinese Rehab Centers.… The film delves into a Beijing treatment center and explores the cases of three young Chinese teenagers from the day they arrive at the treatment center through the 3 months period of being held at the center, and then their return to their homes.

Medalia is quoted as saying, “The first step is to recognize that there is a dark side to the internet.” There is also a very dark side to Chinese intervention in Internet addiction. Last time, we quoted a nutritionist on the obesity epidemic: “If a foreign nation were doing this to our kids, we’d go to war.” We can see the full meaning of this when we look at China, which has literally gone to war against its own young population. In a 2010 story for Wired, Christopher S. Stewart reported:

[China] has fortified its “great firewall,” selectively blocking access to Google, YouTube, and Twitter. It has deployed a special Web police force, tens of thousands strong, to investigate and shut down online political dissent. It has hired a regiment of “secret Web commentators,” who post comments in praise of the state…. Three years ago, it began requiring gaming companies to develop anti-addiction safeguards that would limit play after three hours.

The news media carried stories of children, crazed by World of Warcraft, spontaneously dying, or even killing their parents. According to the party line, 80% of Chinese youth suffered from Internet addiction. In its national obsession to cure them, China banned the young from cybercafés and conducted raids often enough to make sure they didn’t sneak back in. Boot camps were established — somewhere between 300 and 400 of them throughout the country — and not just in China. Apparently, the entire Asian land mass is rife with them.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Obesity status of middle school students in Xiangtan and its relationship with Internet addiction,”, 09/20/13
Source: “The fest’s bests: Ten films to watch for from Sundance,”, 01/24/14
Source: “The Daily Buzz from Sundance: Episode 6,”, 01/22/14
Source: “Obsessed With the Internet: A Tale From China,”, 01/13/10
Image by Global x

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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