Sleep apnea is on the rise in China thanks to the combination of rising incomes and increasingly poor dietary choices, according to Reuters. As the bank accounts of Chinese citizens begin to swell, so do their bellies thanks to the addition of meats and processed foods in their diet. As a result of the sudden weight gain, some individuals have started experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea.
To make matters worse, Chinese citizens are generally apathetic when it comes to organized sports, which means no one is working off those extra calories. Additionally, the high numbers of smokers combined with the country’s relatively high pollution are essentially wreaking havoc on the population.
The International Science Times reports that fast food has become big business in China over the past few years. In just half a decade, calorie-saturated restaurants have increased by a whopping 16.9 percent. The reported $90 billion industry has over 1.9 eateries spread across China’s landscape. As caloric intake rises, so does the chance of developing sleep apnea.
Dr. Han Fang, chairman of the Chinese Sleep Research Society, believes this recent dietary shift is directly related to the country’s eating habits. “The increase of sleep problems is definitely related to the increase of obesity in China, which partially results from changes of the diet structure of Chinese people,” he explained to Reuters.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, over 100 million people across the globe are currently suffering from sleep apnea. The disorder causes the individual to pause between breaths during slumber, which can happen 30 times per hour. As a result, the person may wake up several times a night in order to catch their breath.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, frequent headaches, and sudden shifts in mood. If left untreated, the disorder may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. In some extreme cases, sleep apnea can even lead to death.