Almost half of Hongkongers have unhealthy BMI and cholesterol, study suggests (even those who look slim)

Some 69 per cent of men – against only 33 per cent of women – found with unhealthy BMI levels

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 3:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2016, 3:01pm

Almost half of Hongkongers are falling short on important health targets, including those of slim build, a survey conducted by a private clinic group has found.

Quality Healthcare tested 22,041 patients between July 2014 and June 2015.

Almost half of those tested exceeded healthy scores for Body Mass Index (BMI) and cholesterol, and 39 per cent had an unhealthy level of low-density lipoprotein, or the “bad cholesterol”.

The study showed that even people with slim bodies, who may look healthy from the outside, could be below standards in important ways. For instance, 40 per cent of people with normal weight – BMI below 23 – were found to have high total cholesterol.

Dietician Elaine Hsieh Yee-ling said she had seen many men with slim builds, but who carried a paunch and had higher levels of bad cholesterol.

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“Some people might think skipping chocolate and candies and having biscuits instead for snacks would be healthier. But food containing high carbohydrates would lead to an increase of glucose and triglyceride,” Hsieh said.

She suggested a balanced diet – such as eating nuts and fruit instead – and walking around 8,000 steps a day could help maintain a healthy life.

Of six health indices tested, men scored worse than women in five.

For example, 69 per cent of men had unhealthy levels of BMI, while that figure was 33 per cent for women. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of men had too much triglyceride, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases – three times more than the number for women.

Dr Ace Lee Yee, a specialist in diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism from Quality Healthcare, said: “Men might have longer working hours and irregular diet... they might therefore be heavier.”

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Age also played its part, as the number of people falling short of standards in two of the indices tested jumped from 18 per cent in those aged 21 to 30, to 33 per cent for those aged 31 to 40.

Lee suggested people get their first body check at 30 years old, noting that most health indices, like cholesterol and triglyceride, can not be judged from body size.