Surprise findings on sex

HONG KONG children are sexually mature at an earlier age than many children in Western countries, according to a comprehensive survey to be released tomorrow.

The findings contradicted the traditional belief of many people in Hong Kong, said Dr Sophie Leung Suk-fong, a senior lecturer in paediatrics at the Chinese University, who will be releasing the survey.

She refused to go into details of the research, but said it had surprised her.

'Although sex has always been a controversial topic in Hong Kong, early sexual maturation means the Government should include sex education in school curriculum in lower classes.

'Individual counselling should be given to those who mature at an extremely early age,' she said.

About 25,000 people under 18 were interviewed in the year-long poll, which also revealed that at least one in 10 children and teenagers were over-weight.

Dr Leung said that finding was 'extremely surprising and alarming'.

'We have found that the number of people becoming obese has jumped greatly. Last year I found the number to be five per cent, but this year it is more than 10 per cent. Some age groups have a particularly high obesity rate which is beyond many people's expectations,' she said.

Dr Leung last year conducted the first research on obesity in the territory by charting a group of Hong Kong children from birth to age seven, and found that five per cent of them were diagnosed as obese.

'This time the obesity rate is higher. This is because most children started getting fat at six or seven. And their weight keeps increasing when they get older until they get too fat and realise the problem,' she said.

A detailed chart showing the standard weight and height for Hong Kong people at different ages will be released.