Obesity in Hong Kong
We are now living in an economically prosperous society and enjoying much higher living standards than ever before. However, while we benefit from these nice conditions, there are also some arising concerns. One of these problems is obesity, which has a variety of causes, but is likely related to our new way of life. This report is going to focus on the obesity problem in Hong Kong, and will discuss four possible causes and offer reasonable solutions to them.
2. Is obesity really a serious issue in Hong Kong?
The results of a survey about obesity rates in Hong Kong by the Department of Health in 2003/2004 gave an estimation that 17.8% of those over age 15 in Hong Kong were overweighed, while 21.1% were obese (Hong Kong Department of Health,2009). Though some may argue that this rate is not as severe compared to developed countries like the U.S. (Hong Kong Department of Health, 2009), it is still a high percentage of the whole population. Thus, we shall not disregard the severity of this problem.
3. Causes of Obesity
The causes of obesity are multifaceted, so it is essential to identify them to tackle this problem. Four major reasons are mentioned, including unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercises, long working and short sleeping hours, and living environment (Hong Kong Department of Health, 2009; Ko & Chan, 2007).
3.1 Unhealthy Diets and Lack of Physical Exercises
Eating habits has changed drastically during recent years. People use to consume more fruit, vegetable, and non-refined food; however, common diet nowadays contain refined food with high levels of fat, protein, and sugar (Hong Kong Department of Health, 2009). This phenomenon is likely because that though this kind of food lacks nutrition, they are much cheaper and more accessible than healthier food (Hong Kong Department of Health, 2009). Also, people nowadays do less physical activities due to the variety of new and convenient technology improvements. According to the New York City Department of Health (2007), activities like exercising or simply walking burns calories, so a lack of physical movements may also cause obesity. This might be a possible reason of obesity in our modern society.
3.2 Long Working and Short Sleeping Hours
Statistics from a survey of Hong Kong Chinese showed that the BMI (Body Mass Index, measurement of obesity) of those who work more than 9 hours and sleep less than 6 hours is higher than those who work less and sleep longer (Ko & Chan, 2007). This may imply that the tiring working schedule of our society plays a role in obesity.
3.3 Living Environments
Living environments such as homes, schools, and restaurants can also affect obesity risks. For example, if children watch TV continuously at home and consume fast food at school and restaurants, they will more likely become obese.
4.1 Solutions to Unhealthy Diets and Lack of Physical Activities
Hong Kong Department of Health (2005) pointed out that over the last few decades, worldwide campaigns have been successful in altering lifestyles in developed countries. According to their report (2005), statistics show that these campaigns have successfully changed the diets and physical activity patterns of the participants. It is important for Hong Kong to learn from the experience of these campaigns.
4.2 Solutions to Long Working and Short Sleeping Hours
The Hong Kong government can restrict companies from imposing inhumane working hours on employees. Also, it is pivotal to educate the mass about the importance of sufficient rest. This way, not only will people know the benefits of sleeping more themselves, but parents will also know that they should ensure that their children get enough sleep. This may be a way to prevent childhood obesity.
4.3 Solutions to Living Environments
To create a low obesity-risk environment, it requires the effort of the whole population. What the Hong Kong government can do is also to educate the mass, so people will create home environments that will not indulge families to unhealthy diets. Also, they can supervise schools to ensure that children get sufficient exercise and consume nutritious food. Another approach is to impose taxes on junk food while subsidizing nutritious diets. This will increase the demand of healthy food and help prevent obesity.
After analyzing four possible causes of obesity, we can see that there may be reasonable solutions for them, such as educational campaigns and government regulations. These solutions may look simple, but they take time and effort to be carried out. Events such as campaigns take time and money to organize, while laws and regulations need careful analysis and consideration. However, if the Hong Kong government and the fellow citizens can make up their mind to tackle obesity, it is likely that it will no longer be a serious threat in the foreseeable future.
1. Hong Kong Department of Health. (2005). Fighting Obesity in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Department of Health.
2. Hong Kong Department of Health. (2009). Tackling Obesity: Its Causes and Preventative Actions. Hong Kong Department of Health.
3. New York City Department of Health. (2007). Preventing and Managing Overweight and Obesity in Adults. New York City Department of Health.
4. Ko, C. and Chan, J. (2007). International Journal of Obesity. Volume 31. 254 -260