A University of Hong Kong (HKU) food and nutrition expert is working on a Chinese equivalent of a Western formula for measuring obesity. Edmund Li Tsze-shing, associate professor at HKU's Department of Zoology, said the average Hong Kong diet resembled the Western diet, which was associated with the frequent occurrence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. 'Although there are a lot of methods to measure body fat levels, either by simple equations or machines, the existing equations are all based on Western samples that may not apply to Chinese people,' Dr Li said. One example is the Body Mass Index which calculates a person's level of obesity by dividing a person's weight by the squared total of his height. Metric measures are used. 'If you get a figure of over 25, you are considered overweight. But the problem is we have people who are considered fat even though they score less than 25.' Dr Li's project aims to find out whether the figure should be lower for Chinese people. His equation will calculate body fat content based on a person's weight, height and age. A total of 150 male and 150 female volunteers are being sought to help in the project. Their body fat mass will be measured with an advanced scanning machine at Queen Mary Hospital. Dr Li estimates that the results will be available in a year.