Date
19 November 2017
Older students who prefer to buy food outside the campus are distorting the results of a school-based anti-obesity scheme. Photo: HKEJ
Older students who prefer to buy food outside the campus are distorting the results of a school-based anti-obesity scheme. Photo: HKEJ

Anti-obesity school food scheme shows mixed results

Hong Kong pupils are getting fit but their elders are getting fatter.

Thanks to the EatSmart Scheme (ESS), young schoolchildren are less prone to obesity than they were five years ago, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday, citing a survey by the health department.

Their obesity rate is 20 percent in the previous academic year compared with 22.2 percent in 2008-2009.

But the program has not been as successful for secondary students who have been putting on weight. 

They’re more likely to become obese, with the detection rate rising to 19.5 percent in 2013-2014 from 13.2 percent in 1996-1997.

The obesity rate for boys is 22. 5 percent while that for girls is 16.6 percent.

ESS is generally effective in lowering obesity rates but it’s limited to monitoring school sales of lunch boxes and snacks due to lack of resources.

The results are distorted by the number of older students who prefer to buy food outside the campus, the report said, citing Dr. Chow Chun-chung, chairman of the Hong Kong Association for the Study of Obesity.

That makes it harder to monitor the eating habits of older students.

A society-wide campaign to reduce salt and sugar in food is needed to curb obesity among secondary students, he said.

On Friday, the newly formed Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food will hold its first meeting to discuss its plans. 

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TL/AC/RA

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