China's dietary advisory body calls for more seafood consumption to improve health

Published on
April 14, 2021

China’s national dietary advisory body has suggested the country needs to eat more seafood in order to reduce chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, which are on the rise.

In its annual report on national dietary problems, the China Nutrition Society, a research group attached to the ministry of civil affairs, said the national average daily intake of seafood of 24.3 grams was low by international standards and should rise to 40 grams. It also called for a reduction in sodium and sugar intake, which it blames for a rise in diabetes and coronary artery disease in China.

A shortage of omega-3 intake, in addition to excessive salt consumption, are called out by the study as two primary drivers for rising rates of chronic diseases in Chinese citizens. China boasts a comparatively high per capita seafood consumption rate, but the figure appears to be distorted by disparate consumption rates across demographic categories and a gulf between rural and urban consumption rates, according to the report.

Media coverage of the now-annual report is often cited in marketing by seafood distributors marketing the health benefits of salmon and other species.

Securing a cheap and abundant seafood supply has become a top priority for China, especially in its approach to trade and subsidization of its distant-water fleet. 

A separate report, titled “China at a Crossroads: An Analysis of China's Changing Seafood Production and Consumption,” and published last year by the Stockholm Resilience Centre at the University of Stockholm, found that rising demand from China has implications for global seafood supply and pricing. China will need an additional six to 18 million tons of seafood annually to satisfy projected domestic consumption, according to the report, which suggests China will find a combination of imports, aquaculture, and distant-water fisheries to meet its demand.

Photo courtesy of Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

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