Hong Kong teenagers are increasingly at risk of suffering strokes later in life, doctors warn. A survey has revealed many youngsters in the city do little exercise, and they eat very few fruits and vegetables. A stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Hong Kong, and some 3,500 people are killed by it every year.
Released on October 29, which is also World Stroke Day, the survey found that, of 12,405 secondary school pupils surveyed, 56 per cent have diets where vegetables formed no more than a third of their intake. Four per cent ate no greens at all.
The study, conducted between last month and this month by non-profit organisation Hong Kong Stroke Fund, also found that 28 per cent of pupils were not in the habit of eating fruit every day.
About 38 per cent did less than one hour of exercise per week, and another 42 per cent exercised two to three hours weekly. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said they snacked regularly.
Researchers interviewed pupils from 83 secondary schools, with 41 per cent of the respondents coming from Form One and Two.
“The results are worrying,” the president of the Hong Kong Stroke Fund, Dr Dawson Fong To-sang, said. “They start these habits in Form One – so consider what they will be like by Form Six.”
Not eating enough fruits and vegetables, constantly snacking, and doing very little exercise can result in a person suffering from high blood pressure, as well as having high blood sugar and fat levels – all of which can lead to a person having a stroke, Fong said.
Francis Chow Chun-chung, a Clinical Associate Professor from Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Young Post that the government needs to provide more dietary support for secondary school students.
“The government doesn’t have much control over a secondary school student’s diet [compared to that of a primary student’s diet], as most students can choose to eat out,” he said. The city’s EatSmart School Accreditation Scheme, implemented by the Education Bureau and the Department of Health, assists all primary schools in Hong Kong to implement a healthy eating policy.
Chow said that students should use an app called EatSmart Restaurant Mobile Application. The app tells users the nutritional value of food on the menus of restaurants taking part in a citywide healthy eating campaign.
The Department of Health launched an app called Snack Check late last month. Users input the nutritional information of their chosen snack into it, and the app will apply one of three colours to it. The colours – green, yellow, and red – are assigned based on EatSmart’s Nutritional Guidelines on Snacks for Students, and make it easy for users to see how healthy the snack actually is for their body.