Health and wellness

Hong Kong’s growing obesity problem can be slimmed through incentives at work and changes at home

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 1:16pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 1:16pm

I refer to Kathy Cheung’s letter “Believe in ‘healthy obesity’? Don’t kid yourself” (August 3) which noted that half of Hong Kong’s population aged over 15 is obese or overweight, according to a health survey released by the government last year.

The survey also found that the proportion was the highest among men aged 45 to 54, with 73 per cent of them overweight.

So how do we stop the situation from worsening?

Since May, restaurants in the US have to display detailed calorie information on their menus. Hong Kong could follow suit, requiring that nutritional information such as calories from food, cholesterol, sugar and protein be displayed clearly on all food and beverage items on the menu in fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC.

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Next, parents should set a good example for their children when dining at home or in restaurants. It is not helpful if parents insist on their children finishing the serving of vegetables on their plates, but they themselves eat high-calorie and oily foods such as French fries.

Once people start working, they find that they do not have time to exercise any more. Perhaps companies in the city could start some kind of incentive to encourage their staff to exercise.

The company that my cousin works for in Manhattan has a wellness programme for all staff. Employees are encouraged to participate in an annual fitness evaluation, which checks blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat, flexibility, core strength and heart and lung health with a dollar value assigned for each category. If the employee passes the criteria in each category, he can receive up to US$33 as a fitness incentive every two weeks. Employees who log a total of 100 miles of walking or running a month or who visit the gym at least 12 times a month for three consecutive months can also receive US$100 every three months.

If incentive programmes like these are adopted, more people would be motivated to exercise and it would become a lifetime habit.

Eunice Li, Shanghai