• Chinese children are getting fatter due to lack of exercise.

Chinese children are getting fatter due to lack of exercise. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese children are getting taller and bigger due to better nutrition, but are also fatter due to lack of exercise.

National surveys conducted from 1985 to 2014 revealed the decline in fitness.

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Wang Zongping, a motor development specialist at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, lamented that there is too much focus on developing children's IQ but too little about their motor skills, team spirit, and resilience, which can be achieved through outdoor activities.

Over 84 percent of college students have less than 1 hour of daily exercise, with 27 percent reluctant to run. Most their time is spent on schoolwork and playing games online.

In the 1980s, children enjoyed a variety of athletic activities in schools.

However, the one-child policy resulted in over-protective parents who feared that physical activities would injure their children. In the 1990s much of the equipment was removed from campuses due to parental complaints.

According to Shi Fei, a PE teacher, the school is often blamed if a student gets injured in campus athletic activities.

Wang pointed out that injuries are normal during exercise, and are helpful to better understand their own bodies.

To counter the trend, the government issued the Healthy China 2030 plan in October, mandating that the total space for exercise be increased to at least 2.3 square meters per capita by 2030, from the current 1.5 square meters. This will come in the form of more running and cycling tracks, gymnasiums and school fields. The plan also includes persuading students to undergo at least one hour of strenuous physical activity three times a week.