Chinese embrace massage to knead away the pounds

Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:55am EDT
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By Jimmy Jian and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Tired of dieting and exercising? Some Chinese have found a more pleasant way to lose weight through massage and acupuncture, traditional therapies in a country with one of the world's fastest rising obesity rates.

These ancient methods are becoming popular ways to reduce waistlines in China, where some health experts estimate over a quarter of the adult population is overweight or obese.

Zhao Jizhong is one of the beneficiaries of China's relatively recent obsession with Western-style fast food and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, seen as the side-effects of the country's economic prosperity.

Zhao, who set up two centers that focus on traditional therapeutic techniques such as massage and acupuncture two years ago, opened a third last month in Beijing due to rising demand.

And while massage and acupuncture don't make fat disappear miraculously, they cause weight loss indirectly, the medical doctor explained.

"The main reason for us to develop such therapies is to promote blood circulation," Zhao told Reuters.

"It suppresses the feeling of hunger, and reduces insulin. The fat then gets digested out of the system. The therapy doesn't require any medicine and it's very effective."

According to Zhao, most patients lose between 3 kg and 5 kg (7 lb to 11 lb) after a course of 12 massage sessions, or between 2.5 kg and 4 kg after a course of 10 acupuncture sessions, with heavier patients losing weight faster than slimmer ones.   Continued...