Hong Kong is experiencing an alarming increase in obesity as a result of its residents’ unhealthy diet, a new health survey has revealed.
The Report of Population Health Survey (PHS) 2020-22 Part II, conducted by the Department of Health, revealed that three in 10 Hong Kong residents are obese and more than 80 percent have a high salt intake. The survey, which is the third territory-wide health survey, covered 16,000 non-hospitalised residents over the age of 15 from November 2020 to February 2022.
Obesity Rates Increasing
The Department of Health’s report indicated that 32.6 percent of those aged 15 to 84 were obese. This figure is an increase from the 50 percent recorded in the PHS conducted in 2014-15. The report links obesity and being overweight to an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Over 40 percent of patients with hypertension in Hong Kong were unaware they had the disease until a physical examination was conducted.
Unhealthy Diet High in Salt
The survey also found that most of the city’s residents have an unhealthy diet. Over 80 percent of respondents consume more than 5 grams of salt per day, which is the recommended limit by the World Health Organization. Additionally, 90.9 percent of interviewees consume less than the recommended 3.5 grams of potassium. The report revealed that the average risk of cardiovascular disease in Hong Kong residents aged 30 to 74 is 11.4 percent over the next ten years, which translates to 114 individuals per 1,000 people.
The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle
A Department of Health spokesperson stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent non-communicable diseases such as cancer. This includes engaging in sufficient physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, keeping a healthy body weight, not smoking, and avoiding alcohol consumption. For those with chronic diseases, it is important to have regular follow-ups with healthcare professionals. Additionally, the public should seek medical advice when necessary for health assessments, timely disease detection, and management.
Obesity is a growing concern in Asia. Rates in Hong Kong following a similar trend to those in mainland China. According to the World Population Review, the prevalence of obesity in Hong Kong has increased from 4.1 percent in 1990 to 28.4 percent in 2022. The survey conducted by the Department of Health indicates that the trend in Hong Kong is likely to continue.
Obesity is a complex medical condition that increases the risk of developing several diseases. These include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. The increased prevalence of hypertension in Hong Kong’s latest survey is particularly concerning. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because many individuals are unaware they have the condition.
Unhealthy diets that are high in salt and low in potassium are a significant contributing factor to the increasing rates of obesity and hypertension in Hong Kong. According to the WHO, high salt intake is a leading cause of high blood pressure. It is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A diet rich in potassium can help to reduce high blood pressure.
Hong Kong’s rising obesity rates and unhealthy diets are a cause for concern. The Department of Health’s Report of Population Health Survey (PHS) 2020-22 Part II highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive public health strategy that addresses the root causes of the obesity epidemic, such as unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity. We must educate the public on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding high salt intake, and consuming enough potassium. Additionally, health professionals must also emphasize the importance of regular check-ups and timely disease management.