Hong Kong’s youngsters not getting enough exercise, study shows

Chinese University study gives Hong Kong’s teens and children a D grade for their overall physical activity levels

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 11:14pm

Hong Kong’s youngsters have been given a D grade for their overall physical activity levels, according to a report by the Chinese University.

The Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth study, which was carried out with 37 other countries and regions, looked at a number of factors that contribute to teenagers’ and children’s health.

Of the nine indicators set by the study, Hong Kong performed worst – scoring a D grade – in overall physical activity levels and family support, with less than half of those between age two and 17 meeting the international recommendation of having one hour of physical activity per day, and only about 30 per cent taking part in physical activities with their families at least once a week.

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The research team gave the scores based mainly on the findings of 33 surveys conducted in the past 10 years related to the indicators. Gaining an A grade means 81 per cent to 100 per cent of youth can meet the international standard, B was 61 per cent to 81 per cent, C represents 41 per cent to 60 per cent, D means 21 to 40 per cent, and F was 0 to 20 per cent.

Hong Kong did best in “active transportation” and “community and the built environment” ­– achieving a B – with about 80 per cent of young people travelling to school on foot or by bicycle and almost 80 per cent of parents feeling the community was safe with low traffic and crime rate, and a majority of youth expressing satisfaction with the sports facilities provided by the government.

It received a C in three other categories, including the percentage of schools offering children no less than 70 minutes of physical exercise every week, children participating in organised sports at least once a week, and children participating in physically active games at least once a week.

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But the research team could not gather enough data to score another two indicators for Hong Kong – the amount of government commitment, funds and resources in physical activities, and the percentage of children spending less than two hours per day looking at electronic screens.

Compared with 23 other high income regions, Hong Kong’s scores – described as “mediocre” by researchers – were better than most, with only four regions above the city in overall physical activity levels and 10 above the city in family support.

“Hong Kong did fine compared with other countries, but it is not worth being happy about,” said Professor Stephen Wong Heung-sang, of the university’s department of sports science and physical education. “There are still many areas where we need to improve.”