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Trends in Hong Kong and Macao and other Chinese communities: obesity prevalence in children

   Obesity prevalence amongst children is rising virtually in all countries with acceleration since 1990. In the USA, obesity prevalence in children has increased from around 5% in 1963 to 1970 to 17% in 2003 to 2004. In Australia, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents is around 25%, so one in four adolescents seen in general practice may be overweight. Hong Kong is a leading world financial centre with an increasingly affluent lifestyle so the general pattern of mortality and morbidity among young people is similar to the United States and other developed countries. With a rapidly growing economy, there is also a worrying trend that the Chinese population elsewhere, especially in mainland China, is fast catching up with the West in terms of the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Macao, like Hong Kong, has undergone rapid economic growth over the last decade. The youth risk behavioural survey in Macao conducted in 2003 showed that the risk behaviours related to obesity, such as lack of physical activities and inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetable, had similar pattern as Hong Kong and cities in USA. Taiwan, another important Chinese community is regarded as one of the ‘Four Dragons’ of Asia (the other three are Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore), also shows increasing trends in youth overweight and obesity. The Chinese youth population has shifted from optimal weight during the early post war period to overweight and obesity at the turn of this century. This chapter investigates the trends and risk factors associated with childhood overweight and obesity amongst the Chinese population, especially Hong Kong and Macao, with some recent data on youth risk behaviours and the health status of students. The chapter can serve as a good reference for other Asian countries undergoing similar demographic and social changes.

Obesity prevalence in children, International research, controversies and Interventions

by Albert Lee

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