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HK to Promote Healthy Eating Among Schoolchildren
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Seeing that the number of obese schoolchildren is increasing, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has decided recently to conduct a series of promotion and education campaigns on healthy eating for primary students in the near future.

Hong Kong Department of Health has garnered support from the Education and Manpower Bureau and three headmasters associations to conduct these campaigns, local media reported Sunday.

Assistant Director of Health (Health Promotion) Regina Ching said on a radio program Saturday that the department will invite two parents and two teachers from each primary school to attend workshops that teach the importance of healthy eating.

The obesity rate for students grew from 16.4 percent in 1997-98 to 18.7 percent in 2004-05, according to a statistical figure released by the HKSAR government.

"The lunches they eat at schools are too greasy, salty and sweet, which is not good to their growth and health, and eating snacks like chips makes the problem worse," Ching said.

"In the long run, these unhealthy foods may make them more vulnerable to diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure," she said.

Ching said most of the schools and food suppliers she contacted have responded favorably to the healthy eating campaign, with some of them saying they will consider revising the lunch menu and making it healthier.

She said the campaign's success depends on the co-operation and support of schools, parents and food suppliers.

In 1997, 16.4 percent of Hong Kong children were obese. The rate was 18.7 percent in 2003. It went up over 2 percentage points in just six years. Obesity affects health and leads to many health problems.

Experts think that many children in Hong Kong are obese because they eat much and exercise little. They have bad eating habits, taking in excessive amounts of fat, protein, refined carbohydrates and sugar and not having enough vegetables or fruits.

(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2006)

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