/ HK Edition/ Top NewsThe govt must step up efforts to monitor levels of childhood obesityUpdated: 2016-02-17 08:10
By Peter Liang(HK Edition) PrintMailLarge Medium  Small
分享按钮0While the government is preoccupied with the challenges posed by a rapidly aging population, it seems to overlook the issue of childhood obesity. The latest study on the problem was done in 2012. Although the results of that study showed a slight drop in the rate of childhood obesity from before, they did not indicate an established trend.To be sure, many parents in Hong Kong are aware of the health issues caused by consumption of fast foods and soft drinks. But many children have turned to the consumption of various so-called “health” drinks – not knowing they can be just as bad. Studies in several overseas countries have shown that drinks that are pumped full of Vitamin C and other supposedly healthy elements have high levels of sugar.The problems arising from a rapidly aging society are real. This is all the more reason why Hong Kong should spare more efforts in improving the health and productivity of the next generation – who will be entrusted with the burden to care for the swelling ranks of retirees. In doing so, it is important that the young workers are healthy enough so that they will not add pressure on the already escalating healthcare costs.The governments of some developed economies have set specific guidelines on the sugar content of a wide range of processed foods and beverages. It has been reported that some beverage manufacturers and food processors have been dumping products that exceed the stringent guidelines on less-developed economies, causing havoc to the health of children there.In Mexico, for instance, the per capita consumption of carbonated drinks is higher than that of any other country, resulting in the worlds highest rates of childhood obesity. This forced the Mexican government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks two years ago. According to a BBC report, a study by Mexicos National Institute of Public Health together with a US university showed that in the first year the tax reduced consumption of sugary drinks by an average of 6 percent. In the poorest households, monthly purchases of sweet drinks fell by 17 percent in the same period, the report said.Before the problem of childhood obesity gets out of hand as it did in Mexico, it is necessary for the Hong Kong government to do a fresh study to ascertain whether there is a need to introduce a similar tax.(HK Edition 02/17/2016 page7)

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