[OPE] Correction on China

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Sep 26 2009 - 14:23:48 EDT

I overestimated the number of undernourished people in China, working from
memory. Xinhua News pointed out yesterday that "It was not until the 1980s
the Chinese began to fill their stomachs. The strict food ration coupon
system was loosening up, and moving toward being phased out in 1993. When
discussing this great change, one person can never be overlooked. A famine
victim himself, agricultural scientist Yuan Longping decided to dedicate his
life to researching hybrid rice. His efforts of more than a decade led to
the first high-yielding hybrid rice variety in 1974, which. yielded 20
percent more per unit than other rice plants. Today, Yuan's hybrid rice
species are planted in as many as half of China's rice fields, yielding 60
percent of the country's total rice production."

FAO estimates that the number of undernourished people in China was in fact
reduced from about 178 million in 1990-92, to circa 122.7 million in
2003-05, meaning that, through one decade, an extra 56 million gained a
satisfactory diet - this is a population approximately the size of Britain
or Burma. A hungry Chinese population, mainly in Central and Western China -
a population roughly the size of Japan - still remains undernourished
however. http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/food-security-statistics/en/

Undernourishment is defined by FAO as the condition of people whose dietary
energy consumption is continuously below a minimum dietary energy
requirement for maintaining a healthy life, and carrying out a light
physical activity with an acceptable minimum body-weight for attained
height. A common greeting in China is "have you eaten well?", and you can
see why. Prior to the third Chinese revolution, millions "normally" died of
hunger every year. This led to the policy of the "iron rice bowl". However
nowadays Chinese people must work harder, for the bowl. It can be a catch-22
because obviously if you are malnourished, your productivity is going to be
lower. Hence the strong emphasis of the Chinese government on improving the
food intake of the population.

The "intensity of food deprivation" indicates how much food-deprived people
fall short of minimum food needs in terms of dietary energy. It is measured
as the difference between the minimum dietary energy and the average dietary
energy intake of the undernourished population (food-deprived). The
intensity of food deprivation is low, when it is less than 200 kilocalories
per person per day, and high when it is higher than 300 kilocalories per
person per day. The greater the food deficit, the greater the susceptibility
for health risks related to under-nutrition. In China, the average intensity
of food deprivation among the malnourished was reduced from 260 kcals to 240
kcals. About one-fifth of the Chinese population is nowadays overweight.


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