Public urged to stay vigilant against obesity in support of World Obesity Day

     The Department of Health (DH) today (March 4) appealed to members of the public to help prevent and control obesity as well as lead a healthy lifestyle in support of World Obesity Day.

     Established in 2015 as an annual campaign, World Obesity Day has been observed on March 4 since 2020, with the goal of stimulating and supporting practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. The theme of World Obesity Day 2023 is "Changing Perspectives: Let's Talk About Obesity".

     A spokesman for the DH said, "Obesity is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders and sleep apnoea."

     In Hong Kong, about one in two adults are considered to be overweight or obese. The local situation of overweight and obesity deteriorated amid the COVID-19 epidemic with decreasing physical activities and a change in dietary patterns. For school children in the 2018/19 school year prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the detection rates (Note) of overweight (including obesity) of primary and secondary school students were about 18 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. The detection rates increased to about 21 per cent and 22 per cent in the 2021/22 school year. School closures, online classes, decreased physical activity and more screen time resulted in the increased risk of overweight and obesity.

     According to the Population Health Survey (PHS) 2020-22 conducted by the DH, about one quarter of persons aged 18 or above performed an insufficient level of physical activities. Compared with the previous PHS, a significant increase in the prevalence of physical inactivity was observed, possibly partly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures in place during the study period. Among persons aged 15 or above, about 98 per cent of them reported an inadequate intake (i.e. an average of less than five servings) of fruit and vegetables per day.

     Leading a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of obesity. "The fundamental cause of obesity is more calories are consumed than expended. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, members of the public are encouraged to eat a balanced diet and refrain from alcohol drinking, be physically active and reduce the amount of time spent being sedentary," the spokesman stressed.

     The DH has been promoting a healthy lifestyle through a life-course and setting-based approach. Eating out and ordering takeaway food are common among Hong Kong people. The DH has been enlisting the support of restaurants to provide healthier dishes through the EatSmart Restaurant Star+ campaign. In collaboration with relevant government bureaux/departments and the public, private and non-governmental sectors, the DH has also initiated the and campaigns to encourage healthy eating and physical activity in order to create an environment conducive to a healthy lifestyle in pre-primary institutions and primary schools.

     Apart from encouraging healthy eating, the DH also initiated a social marketing campaign with the theme of "10 000 Steps a Day" last year, with an aim of promoting walking as a simple form of physical activity that can easily be incorporated into a daily routine.

     The Government is committed to halt the rise of obesity. The DH will continue to step up efforts to enhance public awareness about the importance of healthy living and increase people's health literacy, as well as working in close partnership with other government departments and community partners to foster a health-enhancing environment.

     ​For more information about healthy living, please visit the Change4Helath website of the DH.

Note: The data are calculated based on the anthropometric measurements of primary and secondary school students conducted by Student Health Service Centres of the DH. For more details on the statistics of youth health-related behaviour, please refer to the CHP's website 

Ends/Saturday, March 4, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:00