26 March 2019
Hong Kong school students have not done well on tests for physical fitness. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong school students have not done well on tests for physical fitness. Photo: HKEJ

HK students less fit physically than international peers: study

A study has found that Hong Kong students aged between 6 and 19 are less fit physically compared to their peers in other countries, with many local youth faring poorly on parameters such as body mass index (BMI) and body flexibility. 

Data collected from the School Physical Fitness Award Scheme, which was conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) during the 2013/14 academic year on 100,000 pupils and students, showed handgrip strength of the city’s 15-year-old male students was only 29.45 kilograms on average, nearly 30 percent less than their peers in mainland China and Europe.

The study also found that the average flexibility of Hong Kong girl students aged between 10 and 19, determined in sit and reach tests, was at the bottom of the Singaporean standard, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

The School Physical Fitness Award Scheme was jointly launched in 1990 by the Education Bureau, Hong Kong Childhealth Foundation and the Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong.

It is notable that the physical fitness gap between students in Hong Kong and those in other countries world widened with age, researchers concluded in the latest report.

Meanwhile, the study showed that 27 percent of the students who took the tests were overweight based on World Health Organization BMI standards, compared to 20 percent among mainland students.

Hong Kong students’ worsened fitness levels compared to five or ten years ago could be related to the insistence of many parents that academic performance be given higher priority than physical activities, and the fact students are often told not to carry heavy stuff, according to Dr. Ip Pak-keung, clinical associate professor at HKU’s department of paediatrics and adolescent medicine.

Strengthening of the upper limbs and improved blood flow can enhance students’ memory and help in other ways, he said.

Parents should make exercise a habit for their children, the doctor said, adding that one should exercise for about an hour three to five times per week.

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