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DH releases findings of Population Health Survey (with photos)
     The Department of Health (DH) today (November 27) released the findings of the Population Health Survey (PHS). The results showed that about 50 per cent of Hong Kong people aged 15 to 84 are overweight or obese, and about 86.3 per cent of the population are not meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for dietary salt intake, with their salt consumption exceeding the limit of 5 grams per day. The PHS also found that prevalence of hypercholesterolaemia for people aged 15 to 84 is 49.5 per cent, while the rate for prevalence of one or more of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and hypercholesterolaemia is 59.2 per cent.

     Announcing the key findings at the press conference on the PHS today, the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, said that the PHS findings revealed the health status, health-related risk factors and prevalence of common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of the people in Hong Kong.

     Conducted by the DH between December 2014 and August 2016, the PHS was the second large-scale territory-wide survey of its type. The first PHS was conducted in 2003-04. The PHS findings will help strengthen the Government's information base on population health and support evidence-based decisions in health policymaking.

     The findings show a high prevalence of inadequate fruit and vegetable intake at 94.4 per cent. Of note, for alcohol drinking, a marked increase in drinking prevalence was noted, from 33.3 per cent in 2003-04 to 61.4 per cent in 2014-15.

     Dr Chan said that the survey revealed unhealthy lifestyle practices, such as inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, a high-salt diet, drinking, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle, are common.

     She expressed concern on the sharp rise in alcohol drinking. While alcohol drinking in social gatherings and celebrations is common, few are aware of the harm that alcohol does to their health. Alcohol use is an important causal factor of more than 200 diseases (including liver diseases, cancer and stroke) and injury conditions. She reminded the public that alcohol was classified as a Group 1 carcinogen (i.e. there is sufficient evidence in humans for the cancer causing effects of alcohol consumption) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO. There is no safe drinking level as far as cancer causation is concerned. The WHO has never recommended alcohol drinking for the sake of improving health.

     "As it is evident that alcohol produces more harm than any potential benefits, non-drinkers are advised not to start drinking while drinkers should gradually decrease their drinking to reduce harm. Pregnant women, children and youth and people who are ill or on medicine, as well as those operating machinery and driving, should not drink," Dr Chan said. 

     In comparing the prevalence of common NCDs and behavioural risk factors between the first PHS and the second one, some improvements have been observed in hypertension with the age-standardised rate decreasing from 23.5 per cent to 21.2 per cent. 
     Some major NCDs such as being overweight or obese (50.0 per cent), hypertension (27.7 per cent), diabetes mellitus (8.4 per cent) and hypercholesterolaemia (49.5 per cent) are prevalent among the general population. Moreover, they are risk factors for chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and cancers. The fact that about half of these NCDs were only picked up by health examination rather than reported by respondents during the household questionnaire survey is a cause for concern. Moreover, this survey adopted the Framingham risk model to predict the risk of all cardiovascular outcomes including coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and heart failure. Among persons aged 30 to 74, the mean CVD risk over the next 10 years was 10.6 per cent, i.e. among every 1 000 persons aged 30 to 74, 106 persons may suffer from the above cardiovascular event over the next 10 years.

     Dr Chan pointed out that the development of these NCDs and cardiovascular risk factors is closely related to unhealthy lifestyle practices. By having a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, and not smoking and drinking, about 80 per cent of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes mellitus cases and 40 per cent of cases of cancer could be prevented. Individuals, in particular those not practising healthy lifestyle habits or having family members suffering from these conditions, are advised to consult a family doctor for assessment and undergo tests to identify the presence of common NCDs early as age increases. 

     "The DH has all along been working on various aspects in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Noting the high prevalence of unhealthy eating habits and hypercholesterolaemia from this survey, the adoption of the "3 Low, 1 High" (i.e. low in salt, sugar and oil and high in fibre) healthy eating principle cannot be overemphasised. Apart from, for example, the StartSmart@school.hk, EatSmart@school.hk and EatSmart@resturant.hk campaigns, the DH launched the Salt Reduction Scheme for School Lunches in September this year with an aim of reducing sodium content by up to 10 per cent each year. The department is also scaling up efforts to educate youth on the harms of alcohol and a bill was introduced into the Legislative Council in June this year with an aim of prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors," Dr Chan said.

     Noting that the PHS figures showed the current smoking prevalence rate had dropped from 16.3 per cent to 14.8 per cent, Dr Chan said there is no room for complacency and the DH will continue with its efforts in tobacco control. The DH is working on a new Pilot Public-Private Partnership Programme on Smoking Cessation which will be launched later this year to further enhance tobacco control.

     "Successful prevention and control of NCDs relies on collaborative efforts of various stakeholders from different sectors of society. The DH will continue to work with relevant government bureaux and departments and the public health community and to engage the general public in adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is important that healthy choices are made easier, everywhere and for everyone," Dr Chan added. 

     In order to enhance systems of surveillance, the DH will conduct household-based health behaviour surveys every two years and household-based population health surveys with physical measurements and biochemical testing every six years.

     Making reference to the WHO STEPwise approach for surveillance of risk factors for NCDs, the PHS comprised two components, namely a household survey and health examination. The survey saw 12 022 land-based non-institutional people aged 15 and above from 5 435 households interviewed with a household response rate at 75.4 per cent. Moreover, 2 347 participants joined the health examination.

     Members of the public can obtain more information on the PHS report, which has been uploaded to the DH webpage and the Centre for Health Protection webpage.
Ends/Monday, November 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:00
Today's Press Releases  


The Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan (right), and the Head of the Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, Dr Regina Ching, today (November 27) release key findings of the Population Health Survey.
Announcing key findings of the Population Health Survey today (November 27), the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, said that the findings revealed the health status, health-related risk factors and prevalence of common non-communicable diseases of the people of Hong Kong.