7 November 2010, Singapore – 930am, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong graced the launch of Health Promotion Board’s National Healthy Lifestyle campaign (NHLC) as the Guest-of-Honour.
Amongst the other guests present who also committed to “Healthy Together” were Minister of Health Khaw Boon Wan, HPB Chairman and Mediacorp CEO Lucas Chow, Co-Chairperson, NHLC 2010 Organising Committee and Deputy Secretary NTUC, Mdm Halimah Yacob, Co-Chairperson, NHLC 2010 Organising Committee and CEO, HPB, Mr. Lam Pin Woon.
This year NHLC 2010 focuses on obesity. Singapore, amongst other countries around the world, faces the challenge of fighting the global epidemic of obesity. According to results from the National Health Survey 2010 which will be released at a later date that has not been predetermined, there is an increase in the prevalence of obesity of 0.7% yearly, from 6.9% in 2004 to 10.8% in 2010.
There are several likely reasons for the increase in obesity:
- Sedentary lifestyles as more Singapore residents are now employed in sedentary jobs and fewer in labour-intensive jobs. According to the Ministry of Manpower‘s Singapore Yearbook of Manpower Statistics released in 2010, the number of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) have increased from 42% in 1999 to 52% in 2009.
- More than half the population remains physically inactive and do not engage in any form of sports or exercise. Ministry of Health’s National Health Survey 2010 statistics show a slight increment (from 16.9% in 2004 to 19.0% in 2010) of people who participate in any form of sports or exercise of moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 20 minutes per occasion, for 3 or more days a week. There are still more than 50% (albeit a reduction of 3.6%) who do not participate in any form of sports or exercise that lasted of at moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 20 minutes per occasion.
- More Singapore residents are also eating out at hawker centres, food courts, coffee shop stores, restaurants or coffee houses as their usual meal venue more regularly now according to findings from the National Nutrition Survey 2010 (compared to survey findings in 2004)
HPB has developed a comprehensive and holistic four-prong strategy that includes:
1. Policies and Guidelines –
- Physical activity guidelines will communicate the complimentary importance of all three types of physical activity and how they can be incorporated as part of the total physical activity programme. The types of physical activity will include lifestyle, aerobic, and strength activity and may be accumulated during work, commuting, or leisure time.
- Clinical practice guidelines for childhood obesity prevention and management will be developed to empower health care professionals and other stakeholders to initiate evidence-informed obesity prevention and management interventions from an early stage.
- Food advertising/marketing to children – The young today are influenced by marketing and advertising that htey see. HPB will introduce guidelines to protect children from indiscriminate advertising and marketing of unhealthy food and beverage choices.
2. Education and Empowerment -Weight Management Programme outreach to workplaces which was first offered in 2009 continued into 2010, reaching out to 865 participants. 93% of the total number of participants lost weight, and 99% had an improved fitness index. HPB will develop a long-term sustainable weight management programme within the community. A referral system for healthcare providers for their clients attending weight management clinics to the community weight management programme upon discharge will be introduced. More than 20 food companies including food manufacturers, restaurants, food courts and supermarkets have pledged their commitment to formulate products and healthier alternatives by reducing a certain number of calories from the food supply over the next three years. Other education programmes include Healthy Origins Programme (Pre-birth to 2 years old), Firm Foundations Programme (>2 to 6 years old) and the Healthier Food Choices for Youth which is extended from the Healthy Eating in Schools Programme (HESP) for mainstream primary and secondary schools to the Institutes of High Learning.
3. Creative supporting environments through increased access to healthier choices or experiences, working with health promoting malls and lower calorie meals at restaurants and food court stalls. HPB is the first in the world to introduce the concept of a Health Promoting Mall (HPM). 50 participating local shopping malls have committed to make their malls conducive for health-promoting activities, facilitating Singapore residents to pursue health-related activities at their convenience in an enjoyable and fun manner.
HPB piloted the Mall Walk as part of HPM at Jurong Point earlier this year. Around 120 people participated in the 2km walk within the mall for 1 hour. The participants were led by an instructor who guided them to warm up, participate in the walk and finally warm down. Tenants at Jurong Point got together and supported with food and drinks for the participant. Mall Walks encourage family and friendship bonding. The next Mall Walk will be held on 28 November 2010 (Sunday) at City Square Mall. You will need to pre register for the event. More details can be obtained from the HPB Facebook Page.
- Monitoring and Surveillance – HPB will monitor and understand obesity trends in Singapore and conduct 2 to 3 yearly BMI assessments of the population.
- On the social media front to address the youths, Health Promotion Board (HPB) also launched two digital tools.
- Let’s Get Healthy Together” Facebook application.
- HPB Diet Tracker – an iOS, Android, Blackberry and Java mobile application that enables users to find out the calorie and fat content of more than 450 foods, including popular Singaporean dishes as well as fast food offerings. Users can track their calorie and fat intake each day and compare the amounts consumed against their estimated requirements. There are also healthy eating tips which are relevant to their assessment results
HPB has plans to introduce more mobile applications in 2011 to supplement the Diet Tracker.
This year’s theme is Healthy Together and the goal is to inspire the community to share the joy a healthy lifestyle can bring through small, easy steps, effecting positive change and building and sustaining healthier communities.
SM Goh who already plays tennis twice a week and golfs once every week is committed to exercise on more days, eat more greens and less salt, sugar, oil and carbohydrates. Minister for Health Khaw is committed to keeping a strict low-oil vegetarian diet to avoid the recurrence of heart disease. CEO for HPB Mr. Lam wants to incorporate more physical activity into his daily life by using the stairs and walking longer routes after alighting from the MRT or bus while Chairman of HPB and CEO for Mediacorp, Mr. Lucas Chow wants to have a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
What will your “Let’s get healthy together” commitment be? Click on the photo above to get the HPB Get Healthy Facebook application. Remember to eat right, get lots of exercise, not smoke and take care of your mental health to keep healthy! Let’s get healthy together. Spread the word on the social media space. If you are using twitter, remember to hashtag #NHLC