Obesity in Hong Kong

Research conducted by Woo (2000) has observed that “In Hong Kong, 38% of men and 34% of women are overweight (BMI>25kg/m2), and the prevalence of obesity (BMI>30kg/m2) is 5% for men, and 8% for children”. In 2003 -2004, a similar research was carried out by the Department of Health in Hong Kong, it showed that 38. 8% of the population aged 15 and above were classified as overweight or obese (BMI > 23. 0), including 21. 0% as obese. The proportion of overweight and obesity is higher in males than females (42. 5% and 35. 9% respectively.

Moreover, Zou (2006) has observed that “obesity is no longer confined to Western societies and the Western way of life. With globalization making the world smaller by the day, the alarm bells have started ringing in Asia too, with Hong Kong and the mainland experiencing the early stages of the obesity epidemic Nutritional Factors Resulting in Obesity First, it should be understood that obesity is the result of being overweight. It may be worthy to note that the prevalence of being overweight has noticeable increased in all parts of the world.

This could be dependent on several reasons such as parental influence i. e. if parents are obese by birth, their children have the chance to develop the genetics of their parents, climatic changes, and residing from one country to another country. The increase in the prevelance of overweight individuals has been contributed to by the shift way from home- made food. Taveras has noted that food procured from outside of the home tend to have more fat and cholesterol content, especially those which are bought from fast food chains (Taveras, 2005). Food Culture in Hong Kong

The food culture of Hong Kong almost follows that of Chinese, but Hong Kong is a meeting place of foreigners and thus it is expected that there is enormous variety in the food that they prepare and offer. The Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health (2006) recommends that Chinese food be prepared through “steaming”, “roasting”, “barbeque” “steamed rice” as health ethnic foods. Food is an essential requirement in life, and its preparation, calorie level, intake and nutrient level differs from one country to another. The study of food will help to estimate the nutrient values.

Woo et al (1998) share that Hong Kong’s food culture is a mixture of western, Asian and Chinese cuisines. And one more important factor is that apartments are very small and so most of the families prefer to gather in restaurants, as they consider restaurants to be the best meeting place for them. Even now the number of restaurants seems to have increased substantially and this could be a valid reason for the people to have a variety of food items. If they are addicted towards the taste, their intake would be increased, and this naturally may lead to obesity.

This happens for those who do not give importance to diet or nutrition restrictions. Woo et. al (1998) have observed both in men and women the differences in dietary intake, and the results in health outcomes due to its influence. Their objective was to promote dietary practices in both men and women in Hog Kong, and they have achieved this by organising a research on the general dietary supplements present in normal and common food taken by men and women in Hong Kong. This was carried out so that they could suggest some ideas in preventing chronic diseases such as obesity , diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc.

Their results are very helpful in evaluating the nutritional factors present in the diets of normal men and women. They say that “Men have higher intakes of energy and higher nutrient density of vitamin D, monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol, but lower nutrient density of protein, many vitamins, calcium, iron, copper, and polyunsaturated fatty acids” Their results also include data indicating that “Approximately 50% of the population had a cholesterol intake of <300 mg; 60% had a fat intake <30% of total energy; and 85% had a percentage of energy from saturated fats <10%;”.

They have also pointed out that as per WHO recommendations, Hong Kong residents take meager calcium amounts than what is required. According to what has been discussed by Woo et. al (1998), it would be sufficient to calculate the foods that are taken daily by the people in Hong Kong. Some of the common food items are rice varieties, bread, vegetables, meat varieties, dim sum snacks, beverages, fruits, soups, and sauces. The preparation of their food includes these items in different proportions for different items. Woo et. al (1998) noted down the 24 hour nutrient intake in both men and women of Hong Kong.

The table given below has information adapted from Woo et. Al’s (1998) “Dietary Intake and Practices in Hong Kong and Chinese Population” This table gives the opinion that dietary and nutritional intakes are not in balanced condition though literatures and researches say that Chinese cuisines and foods are good for health. The observation made in the above table points out clearly that though food seems to be healthy, nutritional balance is not achieved in places like Hong Kong. In this sense people do not look into the matter of maintaining a balanced diet.

Some reports and surveys say that the percentage of obesity in Hong Kong is comparatively low, but the percentage of obesity is more prevalent among children than adults. And the nutrition factors differ in rural and urban areas in Hong Kong , as people seem to follow food habits according to their own culture, with their corresponding influences. Life styles also have to be considered, in the sense that life in urban areas is very fast, and that there will be majority engaged as employees. Their life is basically fast moving and they tend to choose restaurants of relaxation and refreshments.

This could be another reason for nutrition variation to become obese. Snacks, is yet another nutritional factor, becoming more prevalent in Hong Kong. Hanru, Zou (2006) also points out that “Big Macs in Hong Kong arguably contain more fat and cholesterol than anywhere else in the world. They are the highest in calories, too. Along with those dished out in the United States, according to news reports quoting figures from the fast food chain’s website”. He is very clear in making the statement that the multi-cuisines followed in Hong Kong nowadays have more calories than the native cuisines. Diet restriction is stressed by all. ”

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