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Health and wellness

Believe in ‘healthy obesity’? Don’t kid yourself

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 2:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 2:01pm

I refer to the debate over whether obesity not only causes lifestyle diseases but is a disease in itself (“Hong Kong’s ageing society is prone to ‘rich person’s diseases’”, August 3).

Half of Hong Kong’s population aged over 15 is obese or overweight, according to a health survey released by the government last year. Moreover, many of us, whether young or old, do not get enough physical exercise. This puts us at greater risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension, and cardiovascular problems, including coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and heart failure. Scientists have also established a link between obesity and cancer.

However, while it can lead to many illnesses, in many ways obesity by itself meets the definition of a disease. It has been found that obesity impairs the normal functioning of our body, like other diseases, and reduces physical well-being. It can also lead to reduced life expectancy.

Unlike many other diseases, obesity is preventable. Those who consider obesity as only a risk factor for other diseases or believe in the concept of “healthy obesity”, when other metabolic markers are within the normal range, are only fooling themselves.

Obesity is the result of eating too much: take Hong Kong for instance, many citizens love fast food, and such food usually contains a lot of sugar and oil, which can cause obesity. In fact, a survey of more than 12,000 people released in 2017 found half of Hongkongers aged 15 or older are overweight or obese, with poor diet to blame. The proportion was the highest among men aged 45 to 54, with 75 per cent of them overweight.

Recognising the inherent risks of obesity can push us to make the lifestyle changes needed to lead a long and healthy life.

Kathy Cheung, Sha Tin