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Trends in Diet, Nutritional Status, and Diet-related Noncommunicable Diseases in China and India: the Economic Costs of the Nutrition Transition

Dr. Barry M. Popkin Ph.D, Dr. Susan Horton Ph.D, Ms. Soowon Kim M.S, Dr. Ajay Mahal Ph.D, Dr. Jin Shuigao Ph.D
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb06967.x 379-390 First published online: 1 December 2001


Undernutrition is being rapidly reduced in India and China. In both countries the diet is shifting toward higher fat and lower carbohydrate content. Distinct features are high intakes of foods from animal sources and edible oils in China, and high intakes of dairy and added sugar in India. The proportion of overweight is increasing very rapidly in China among all adults; in India the shift is most pronounced among urban residents and high-income rural residents. Hypertension and stroke are relatively higher in China and adult-onset diabetes is relatively higher in India. Established economic techniques were used to measure and project the costs of undernutrition and diet-related noncommunicable diseases in 1995 and 2025. Current WHO mortality projections of diet-related noncommunicable diseases, dietary and body composition survey data, and national data sets of hospital costs for healthcare, are used for the economic analyses. In 1995, China's costs of undernutrition and costs of diet-related noncommunicable diseases were of similar magnitude, but there will be a rapid increase in the costs and prevalence of diet-related noncommunicable diseases by 2025. By contrast with China, India's costs of undernutrition will continue to decline, but undernutrition costs did surpass overnutrition diet-related noncommunicable disease costs in 1995. India's rapid increase in diet-related noncommunicable diseases and their costs projects similar economic costs of undernutrition and overnutrition by 2025.

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