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LCQ9: Promotion of balanced diet

     Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (June 28):


     In spite of greater efforts made by the authorities in recent years to promote balanced diet, there are surveys which indicate that vegetables and fruits are still lacking generally in people's diet.  Many people, especially children, face the problem of obesity.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has conducted studies on the above issue; if so, of the findings; and

(b) whether it will step up publicity, such as promoting healthy menus in co-operation with restaurants and caterers, as well as commending organizations which promote healthy diet, in order to provide the public with more healthy diet choices?


Madam President,

     We are aware that obesity has posed a growing threat to public health and become a heavy economic burden in many other places around the world.  In Hong Kong, obesity control and the promotion of a balanced diet have been, among others, a key component in our public health policy.  In this connection, strenuous efforts have been made by the Department of Health (DH) to promote healthy diets in its publicity drive.  Featured prominently in its recent initiatives are the Two plus Three A Day Campaign and the Nutritional Guidelines on School Lunch for Primary School Students for food suppliers.  

     It should also be noted that in the 2005-06 Policy Agenda, the Administration has set out "promoting healthy eating habit among school children to protect the public from life-style diseases" as one of our initiatives.

     My answers to the questions asked by the Hon Bernard CHAN are as follows:

(a) The DH conducts regular telephone surveys to collect information on behavioural risk factors from people aged 18 to 64 in our local adult population in order to assess the trend of risk factors and develop measures for health promotion and disease prevention accordingly.  The surveys cover areas like people's habits in consuming fruit and vegetables, level of physical activity and body mass index, etc.

     The findings on the fruit and vegetables consumption habits of the public are shown in the Table.

     The above findings reveal that since the introduction of the Two plus Three A Day Campaign by the DH in June 2005, people have become more aware of the need to consume adequate servings of fruit and vegetables.  In the past year, the proportion of people who consumed 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day increased by nearly six percentage points.

     A healthy eating habit could be best fostered at an early age.  In this regard, a study undertaken by the DH in 2004 among school children revealed that although school children possessed the knowledge about healthy eating, their dietary practices remained unhealthy as they were under the influence of a number of negative factors, such as excessive snack consumption, peer influence, a lack of healthy foods at home or in schools, etc.  This highlights the need for greater collaboration and concerted efforts from the community at large, including schools, parents, students, food suppliers, etc, in creating a conducive and health-conscious environment to nurture children's eating habits.

(b) In addition to the above publicity and educational initiatives, the DH will continue to intensify its efforts in disseminating information on healthy eating through various activities and channels.  As far as school children are concerned, the DH has in recent years introduced a series of school-based programmes to promote balanced diet, including publishing guidebooks and pamphlets featuring useful information on healthy eating, giving advice on menu targeting at primary and secondary school students, and organising health talks at schools.  The DH will soon issue the Nutritional Guidelines on Snacks for Primary School Students for schools' reference.

     Besides, the DH has also provided primary schools and their lunch caterers with the Nutritional Guidelines on School Lunch for Primary School Students to enable them to make an informed choice of suitable lunches for the school children.  The DH will keep the effectiveness of these efforts under review.  On the other hand, it will explore room for further collaboration with the catering industry and encourage them to provide more choices for the general public in terms of healthy food.

Ends/Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Issued at HKT 14:26


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