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An Overview Of Health Fitness Of Hong Kong Children And Adults


									 An Overview Of Health Fitness Of Hong Kong Children And Adults
            In The Past 20 Years (1984-2004) – Part 1*

                            Fu, Frank H.1, Nie, J.L.2 and Tong, K.K.1
                       Hong Kong Baptist University,Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
                               Beijing Sports University, Beijing, China

    This review of research findings conducted in this area during the past 20 years (1984-2004)
would be timely and useful in planning strategies to develop physically fit and healthy children in
the territory in the new century.
      It is apparent from the review of literature, the definition of obesity is not universal and it will
affect the reported prevalence in different countries. In using BMI, the differences between ethnic
groups must be considered and the choice of the cut-off point that ranges from 23.0 to 30.0 kg/m2
can be the source of variance. For Hong Kong Chinese, the use of percent body fat to define
overweight and obesity appeared to be more valid. Furthermore, it is accepted that the prevalence
of obesity among children is increasing at an alarming rate and measures must be taken to
intervene this trend. It is also noted that the influence of the parents is very important and that the
correlation between adult and child obesity is high. Some studies explored new methods that are
simple and economic to assess body composition but with mixed results in reliability and validity.
Cardiovascular heart disease is the number two killer in Hong Kong and obesity is a risk factor
that can be modified through modification of diet and lifestyle, education and exercise. It is
obvious that obesity is a disease that will require our combined effort to prevent it from becoming
a global plague in the 21st Century.

Physical Fitness
      Researches in the area of physical fitness and exercise have flourished during the past 20
years. Studies were conducted to investigate different populations and develop norms for them, to
compare different cohorts and ethnic groups, and to introduce models in explaining the
inter-relationships between the various factors. The nature of the research projects also varied
from field to experimental setting, from cross-sectional to longitudinal study, and from descriptive
to analytical design. The importance of the application of research findings of other countries to
the local setting was noted and this would lead to more studies on the aspect of transferability such
as validity and reliability. In testing, the Asian Physical Performance Test developed in 1960’s
were still being used in the schools although some also adopted the AAHPERD Physical Best Test,
the ICHHPER.SD Health-related Fitness Test, and the Chinese Physical Fitness Testing Protocol
(Fu, 1994; Fu, 1998; Fu et al., 2004). Future challenges for us include developing interest and fun
to our school children to exercise regularly and to eat wisely, and to cater to the special needs of
other populations such as the disabled, the mentally retarded, and the elderly. It is imperative that
we work together in our strive towards offering quality of life and wellness for all our residents in
the territory.

Cardiovascular risk factors
    During the past 20 years, many researchers have conducted studies on the prevalence of CHD
risk factors among different populations in Hong Kong. Three categories of CHD risk factors can
be identified namely:      Personal-related factors: Age, gender, family history and race;
Behavioural-related factors: Stress, sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), smoking, drinking,
residence and diet; and Health-related factors: serum lipids (triglycerides), cholesterol (Total, LDL
and HDL), diabetes (glucose intolerance and insulin resistance), overweight and obesity (percent
body fat, BMI), metabolic syndrome, and enzyme imbalance. Some researchers noted that Hong
Kong children were developing early symptoms of CHD and having 2-3 risk factors. It was
suggested that Government must take the lead to develop and implement primary intervention
programmes for target populations through education and promotion of active lifestyle, healthy
diet and exercise.

Physical Activity
     The majority of researches conducted in Hong Kong in physical activity were with children
and adolescents. This might suggest that the importance of cultivating positive attitude towards
physical activity and developing a healthy and active lifestyle through physical activity was
recognized. While it is essential to offer physical activities that are fun and safe, they should also
provide opportunities for socialization and skill learning/improvement. One study suggested that
Hong Kong Chinese regarded health as most important and that they would like to have access to
good sport facilities at affordable cost (Fu, 1993). The offering of different physical activities
according to the interest of different age groups and genders is also essential and the role of the
family will be an important consideration in planning future programmes/activities and facilities.

     Researches on various aspects affecting lifestyle have been conducted and analysed such as
physical activity, dietary habit, body weight, CHD risk factors, self-esteem, depression, and
energy consumption and expenditure, and with a wide range of Hong Kong Chinese of different
age cohorts and characteristics. In order for Hong Kong to remain as an international business city,
the demand and focus on quality of life and the health and productivity of the workforce must
begin with the promotion and development of an attractive lifestyle for residents from different
socio-economical background and age cohorts.

Growth and Development for Children and Adolescents
      The interest in health fitness led to over 100 research projects conducted in the territory in the
past 20 years (1984-2004). While every support has been made to include as many research
publications as possible in the review exercise, it is very likely that some publications, such as
articles published prior to 1988, were overlooked and thus not presented. The authors were fully
aware of this limitation that our search was not exhaustive.
It was worth noted that support for the research reports was obtained from various
agencies/foundations such as the Croucher Foundation, Sir David Trench Fund, University Grant
Committee (UGC), the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Hong Kong
Sports Development Board. During the past 20 years, research has slowly become an integral part
of the sport community in Hong Kong and local scholars have published in overseas journals as
well as in three local refereed journals. The latter is particularly significant since this will shorten
the time lapse for research findings to reach practitioners in the field and create an impact.
Coupled with periodic hosting of local/regional conferences/seminars/workshops, Hong Kong
scholars, professionals and public are kept well informed of current and future trends. Research
centres have been established in some tertiary institutions, which further reinforce the importance
of conducting both theoretical and applied research in health fitness and related areas. In order for
sport culture to be developed in the territory, continuous interest and funding of research in this
area together with the promotion and marketing of health fitness research findings would be

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