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World Obesity Day 2016 focuses on childhood obesity
     The Department of Health (DH) today (October 11) appealed to members of the public to help prevent and control childhood obesity in support of World Obesity Day 2016.
     World Obesity Day takes place on October 11 each year. It aims to increase community understanding of challenges posed by obesity, and what can be done to tackle it. The theme of World Obesity Day 2016 is "Overcoming Childhood Obesity".

     A spokesman for the DH said, "Childhood obesity is a looming crisis for public health. Obesity can negatively impact a child's immediate and long-term health and quality of life. Overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood, often developing life-threatening non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age."

     To secure the future of our children, the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016 committed to establishing national strategies to end childhood obesity as recommended by the World Health Organization Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.
     In Hong Kong, the DH is committed to working closely across sectors to make healthy choices easier, earlier and everywhere for everyone. By halting the rise in childhood obesity, young people can be healthier, happier and achieve more in life.
     The proportion of primary school students considered overweight or obese in Hong Kong dropped from 21.4 per cent in the 2010/11 school year to 18.7 per cent in 2014/15. Of note, that of secondary school students increased from 18.7 per cent to 19.4 per cent in the same period. Having about one in five children and adolescents deemed overweight or obese is worrying and requires further action.

     The spokesman highlighted the fact that every aspect of the environment in which children are conceived, born and raised can contribute to their risk of unhealthy weight gains. A sustained drop in the number of overweight and obese school children in Hong Kong will only be possible with concerted efforts from various health promotion partners in addressing critical elements throughout the life-course, tackling the obesogenic environment, and treating children who are obese.

     The promotion of healthy diets and adequate physical activity are major elements in controlling the childhood obesity epidemic. Breastfeeding is also important in this context, and the DH has and will continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding at home, at the workplace and in the community.

     For school children, in collaboration with relevant government bureaux/departments and the public, private and non-governmental sectors, the DH has initiated the StartSmart@school.hk and EatSmart@school.hk campaigns to encourage healthy eating and physical activity to create an environment conducive to a healthy lifestyle in pre-primary institutions and primary schools.

     The Student Health Service of the DH checks students' body weight during annual health assessments, counsels students with suboptimal weight, and makes referrals to specialists if further management is considered necessary. In addition, the Advisory Group on Health Effects of Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products convened by the DH in 2013 released a report in 2014 with recommendations on limiting "screen time" and advocating "going outdoors and being physically active" for children and adolescents.

     "In addition to efforts of the Government and various community sectors, the roles of parents and carers are equally significant in overcoming childhood obesity. They should stay alert to their children's weight, serve as role models for healthy eating and active living, and most importantly provide balanced diets and ample opportunities for children to exercise," the spokesman stressed.
Ends/Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:00
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