Life is just not worth the weight for most of us

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 9:00am

Hong Kong has serious weighty issues, based on figures released by the Census and Statistics Department last week.

About five years ago, the percentage of Hong Kong adults who were overweight/obese stood at about 39 per cent, according to the Centre for Health Protection. The latest survey, conducted between April 2011 and January last year by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, reveals that more than half of adults aged 40 and over are carrying too much weight.

The overweight/obesity level generally increases as age advances: infants (13.5 per cent), children (26.9 per cent), adolescents (14 per cent), young adults (38 per cent), middle-aged adults (56.9 per cent), and elderly (61.5 per cent). World Health Organisation standards for Asians defines overweight as a body mass index (BMI) of at least 23 and obesity as 25 and above. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in metres.

Central obesity, or waist circumference of over 90cm for men and 80cm for women, is another indication of overweight/obesity. This had the same general increasing pattern with age: young adults 15.7 per cent, middle-aged 32.1 per cent, and elderly 44 per cent.

The findings are part of the first city-wide physical fitness test conducted to ascertain the patterns, overall lifestyle and attitudes of Hongkongers towards physical activity. The test, which also included a survey questionnaire, was devised with reference to the China National Fitness Survey conducted by the General Administration of Sport of China. About 8,200 residents aged three to 69 were randomly sampled.

Excess weight is linked to a lack of exercise: participation in physical activity was found to decrease with age, from 51.8 per cent in children to 36.5 per cent in the elderly. People who had physical activity of moderate or above intensity at least three days a week with accumulation of 30 minutes or more per day were classified as "active". Among those who claimed they were "not active", the major reasons were: "lack of spare time", "lack of interest", "tiredness", "inclement weather" and "laziness".