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Maintaining healthy lifestyle key to preventing diabetes (with photos)

     The Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, today (April 7) said that one out of 10 people in Hong Kong is a diabetic patient and about one-fifth of the patients had young-onset diabetes. She reminded the public that the risk of diabetes can be significantly reduced by maintaining normal body weight through engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet.

     Dr Chan made the above remarks on the local situation of diabetes at a press conference for World Health Day 2016. April 7 is designated as World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) selects an important public health topic as the theme each year and this year's theme is "Diabetes".

     Diabetes is a chronic disease. Improper diabetic control may result in acute or chronic complications. According to the WHO, the number of adults with diabetes has almost quadrupled from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012.

     Dr Chan pointed out that diabetes is generally classified into two categories. Type 1 diabetes is related to genetic and immune system factors and Type 2 diabetes is related to genetic factors, unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity and obesity.

     Dr Chan said, "One out of 10 people in Hong Kong is a diabetic patient. However, about half of the patients are not aware of having diabetes."

     According to a local study, about 21.3 per cent of patients had the onset of the disease before the age of 40. Patients with young-onset diabetes have higher risks of cardiovascular and renal complications because of the longer disease duration.

     Hospital Authority figures show that new cases of diabetes had increased from 33 331 in 2009-10 to 34 864 in 2014-15. The burden of diabetes in Hong Kong is on the rise as reflected by the increase in the number of out-patients by 31.5 per cent from 2009-10 to 2014-15. Moreover, there has been an increasing trend of gestational diabetes and childhood diabetes over the past years.

     Dr Chan said, "People in Hong Kong also have a number of risk factors for developing diabetes. In 2014, about 39 per cent of people aged 18 to 64 were overweight or obese according to the WHO's classification of weight status by body mass index (BMI) for Asian adults. On the other hand, 18.7 per cent of primary school students and 19.4 per cent of secondary school students were overweight or obese. More than one-third of the respondents drank soft drinks or sugary beverages once a day or more in the past 30 days prior to a survey and more than 60 per cent of the respondents fell short of the WHO's recommended level of physical activity."

     She added, "Our slogan is 'Let's Beat Diabetes', which aims to raise the awareness of the general public about the prevention and management of diabetes via different methods."

     Dr Chan said, "A healthy diet, such as eating more vegetables and fruits and reducing the consumption of sugar and saturated fat as well as regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day for five days a week), can help lower the risk of diabetes."

     Dr Chan advised people who are aged 45 or above, have immediate relatives with diabetes, are overweight (BMI 23 to 24.9), are obese (BMI 25 or above) or are centrally obese (with a waist circumference of 90 centimetres or above for males or 80 centimetres or above for females) to conduct regular body checks for diabetes. She reminded diabetic patients to follow medical advice, including taking prescribed drugs properly, controlling blood pressure and avoiding smoking.

     Also attending the press conference, the Consultant (Community Medicine) (Risk Assessment and Communication) of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Dr Ho Yuk-yin, advised the public to reduce the consumption of salt and sugar in order to prevent diabetes and its complications.

     Dr Ho pointed out that excessive consumption of sugar, sugary drinks in particular, not only leads to additional intake of energy without nutritional value, but also causes obesity and subsequently diabetes. According to the CFS, about 32 per cent of sugar consumed by the general public comes from non-alcoholic beverages, including soft drinks, tea beverages, and vegetable and fruit juice/beverages.

     Dr Ho said, "Improper control of diabetes can cause complications such as hypertension. Long-term consumption of food high in salt content can increase the risk of having hypertension.

     "The normal daily intake of salt by a local adult is as much as 10 grams, which is two times the daily intake recommended by the WHO. The major food sources of salt intake are condiments, sauces and soups."

     In order to achieve the goal of lowering the public's level of consumption of salt and sugar to the WHO's recommended level, the CFS has launched activities featuring "Hong Kong's action on salt and sugar reduction". The activities spread the message of salt and sugar reduction to the public and the industry, emphasise the importance of a healthy diet low in salt and sugar, and encourage the public to take action on salt and sugar reduction.

     The President of Diabetes Hongkong, Dr Lee Ka-fai, introduced a booklet jointly produced with the DH, called "Managing Diabetes Made Easy", at the press conference. The booklet aims to help new diabetic patients to better understand their body conditions, enrich their knowledge of diabetes, and monitor and control the disease in order to prevent complications.

     Physical exercise advisors from the Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China also conducted a physical activity demonstration at the press conference. They led the participants to conduct the "Ten-minute Exercise", a moderate-intensity physical activity suitable for the workplace and at home which helps to attain a sufficient amount of physical activity. Moreover, exhibition boards with information on healthy eating and physical activity as well as healthy dishes, snacks and beverages were also displayed at the press conference.

     To echo the theme of World Health Day 2016, the DH is running a publicity and public education campaign, launched this month, with various bureaux, departments and supporting organisations to raise the awareness of the general public on the prevention and management of diabetes.

     To learn more about diabetes, please visit the World Health Day thematic webpage ( The Facebook fan page of the Centre for Health Protection of the DH ( will issue a series of posts with information about diabetes. Members of the public are welcome to "Like" and share the page.

Ends/Thursday, April 7, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:35


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