To read this content please select one of the options below:

The changing dietary patterns and health issues in China

Ming Yuan (College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China)
James Lawrence Seale Jr (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Thomas Wahl (Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA)
Junfei Bai (College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 27 July 2018

Issue publication date: 15 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to offer an overview of dietary transition patterns and a discussion of the food-related health issues in China.


The paper builds on a review of the existing literature on food consumption and diet changes in China, and highlights with specific attention to increasing food consumed away from home, the rising demand for fast and processed foods, and the popularizing of western-style foods in Chinese diets.


China’s food consumption patterns rapidly transitioned from one in which grains and vegetables dominated to one having more animal products and more diversification. More foods are consumed away from home and in the form of fast and processed. Income growth played and will continue to play a critical role in shifting the structure of food consumption. On the other hand, China is on a fast track from a lean population to one in which being overweight or obese. The associations between health outputs and food transitions, however, are inconclusive.


The main findings of this study have implications for better understanding the key trends and driving forces of China’s food demand system. Moreover, the results from this review are essential for food-related policymaking in many emerging economies where coexistence of undernutrition, deficiency of micronutrients and overweight and obesity is a common challenge to the society and individual households.



Yuan, M., Seale Jr, J.L., Wahl, T. and Bai, J. (2019), "The changing dietary patterns and health issues in China", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 143-159.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles