Study shows two in five adolescents have disease risk factors The city's adolescents have become as unhealthy as their counterparts in western countries, with more than four in 10 suffering from either high blood pressure, excessive body weight, high blood sugar or abnormal blood fat levels. A Chinese University study tested 2,115 children aged between 11 and 18 from 14 secondary schools and measured their waistlines, blood pressure, and triglyceride, glucose and good cholesterol levels. Results found 32.3 per cent had high blood pressure, 10.9 per cent had high triglyceride levels, 2.4 per cent had a low level of good cholesterol and 0.3 per cent had abnormal glucose levels. Two in five had at least one of these risk factors for developing chronic diseases. The survey also found 2.9 per cent of boys and 2 per cent of girls are suffering from metabolic syndrome, which is the presence of three or more of these risk factors. Chinese University professor of medicine and therapeutics Juliana Chan Chung-ngor said the results were alarming. 'You cannot say it is only 2.9 or 2 per cent,' she said. 'At their age, these risk factors should not be found at all. This is the time when their health should be at its best.' Professor Chan said the results were the same as in studies in western countries and parents should be more concerned as Asians had a 30 to 50 per cent higher risk of developing chronic diseases. 'For centuries, Asians were starved and had low energy diets,' she said. 'Our biological make-ups do not have to process high levels of energy. This genetic trait is now working to our disadvantage as our generation has suddenly become exposed to high-energy diets.' The survey also found those with metabolic syndrome tended to come from lower band schools - those where students score lower academically - but Professor Chan said it was difficult to pinpoint the cause. It could be a combination of family lifestyle, school environment and curriculum or the levels of exercise they get at school. Assistant Director of Health Regina Ching Cheuk-tuen said a culture of healthy eating had to be ingrained at an early age to prevent chronic diseases developing later in life. For this school year, 144 out of 820 primary schools have registered with the department to take part in a self-surveillance programme. The schools are given guidelines for healthy meals, and volunteer parents and teachers will check school lunches to monitor whether the guidelines are being met. The department has launched a website www.eatsmart.gov.hk to give the public readily available information on healthy eating for school children.