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Studies damage young's health

TOO much studying is leaving growing numbers of young Shanghainese short-sighted and obese, according to a new report. The survey, released by the Shanghai Education Commission yesterday, said just over 12 percent of local students aged between 7 and 22 are obese - compared to around 11.5 percent in the previous study five years ago. The education authority examined 15,959 students from 47 local primary and secondary schools and four universities last year in the study. It is part of the third National Physique Monitoring study. Boys are more likely to be overweight, with the incidence of obesity among them more than double that found in girls. The highest percentage was reported among boys aged between 8 and 14. A third of 11-year-old boys are obese, according to the survey. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of students surveyed have vision disorders, including myopia - 5.3 percent higher than in 2005. "Students have little time for exercise due to heavy academic pressure, and this is reflected in their health," said Xue Mingyang, the commission director. The survey also found most students exercise less than one hour a day. While education authorities have for years ordered schools to guarantee one hour of exercise a day for students, implementation is poor. Many schools use the slot to allocate more time to academic subjects. "I am weighed down by homework and don't have time for sports," a senior high school student said, adding that he stayed up until midnight every day doing homework. In addition, some schools cut out exercise to avoid possible injuries to students, often with the support of parents. "Compared with exposing my son to sports injury risks, I would rather have him sitting at a school desk," said Yuan Chunfang, mother of a 14-year-old boy. "At least that way he's safe." Education authorities will carry out periodic studies on students' well being and intervene where schools perform badly. Results and rankings will be published, whereas previously, only academic rankings were publicized.

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