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Health and wellness

Hong Kong phone app aims to guide users into good nutrition and exercise practices

Developers want to overcome misconceptions over calorie counts and prompt busy users to take up exercise at home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 7:16pm

A smartphone app developed by sports medicine and diet professionals aims to overcome misconceptions about nutrition and promote a healthy lifestyle through simple exercises tailored for busy individuals.

Currently available in Chinese only with the possibility of an English interface later becoming available, the HK FitNuts app was launched following a study which exposed a general lack of knowledge about nutrition.

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A survey of 219 people conducted by the Hong Kong Association of Sports Medicine and Sports Science last year revealed that 55 per cent of respondents had no idea how many calories they should consume every day, while 46 per cent were unaware of their daily intake.

Sylvia Lam See-way, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Dietitians Association, said Hongkongers had stereotypical views when it came to identifying unhealthy food.

“Dishes which look greasy, such as stir-fried beef with flat rice noodles, may not contain the most calories. A lot depends on how the dish is prepared in the kitchen,” Lam said.

While a serving of the dish boasts 970 calories, Hokkien fried rice – another favourite which does not seem as oily – contains 1,400 calories.

Lam believed a lack of cookery skills made the problem worse. “Most Hongkongers are too busy to even enter the kitchen, so many are clueless about how the dishes are prepared or the amount of condiments added,” she said.

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Touted as the most comprehensive database for local cuisines, the app can help users avoid potential “calorie bombs” and maintain an optimal intake.

Most Hongkongers do not even meet minimum levels of exercise because of hectic work schedules, according to Association of Sports Medicine and Sports Science president Gary Mak Yiu-kwong.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 perform at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, plus two sessions of muscle strengthening.

The same study showed that 59 per cent of respondents exercised 90 minutes or less each week.

The cardiologist said most of the exercise routines promoted by the app could be performed easily at home, with little or no equipment needed.

Video demonstrations are added to guide users, and Mak said there was little risk of injury even if they could not follow the movements accurately.

Hardaway Chan Chun-kwan from the Chinese University’s Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology said the app could offer tailor-made training regimes, with users keeping track of their diet and exercise sessions after inputting their body measurements.