Hong Kong’s Action on Salt and Sugar Reduction
  • According to the Thematic Household Survey Report No. 50 conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in 2013, 17.8% of the Hong Kong population aged 55-59 and 46% of the population aged 65 and above suffer from hypertension. In another survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2014, it was found that 39% of the Hong Kong population aged between 18 and 64 were classified as overweight and obese. In addition, the Oral Health Survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2011 showed that almost 50% of the 5 year old children surveyed had experienced tooth decay.
     
    An excessive intake of dietary sodium and sugar has been demonstrated to have a negative impact on health and is associated with hypertension, excessive body weight and dental caries. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong has therefore been actively promoting healthy eating including the development of guidelines targeting the reduction of dietary sodium and sugar.
     
    An International Advisory Panel (IAP) which included international experts was formed to establish the overall strategy, programs, targets and public education on the reduction of dietary sodium and sugar. Members of the IAP included Professor Norman Campbell from Canada, Professor Graham MacGregor from UK, Professor Bruce Neal from Australia, Professor Pekka Puska from Finland and Professor Zhao Wenhua from Mainland China.
     
    A two-day program “International Symposium on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food" was held in May 2015 and formed a platform for the IAP and different stakeholders to exchange views on how a reduction in sodium and sugar intake of Hong Kong population could be achieved.  The symposium began with   discussions on the health effects of excessive salt and sugar intake from global and local perspectives. This was followed by a sharing of different measures and actions taken by various countries. In addition, in-depth discussions were made on how to engage the community in reducing salt and sugar in food, including the roles of non-government organizations, the food trade and consumers. A total of 270 participants from the food trade, academics, health and nutrition professionals and government representatives from different places attended the symposium.
     
    To continue the promotion of reducing dietary sodium and salt in Hong Kong, a Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food was formed and is comprised of experts who are able to advise on the formulation of policy direction and to monitor the effect of strategies planned. The Hong Kong Dietitians Association Chairman, Ms.Sylvia Lam, was invited to join the Committee which demonstrates that Hong Kong dietitians are recognized as food and nutrition experts and are able to contribute to ensuring the health of the Hong Kong population.

    To raise the awareness amongst the general public, a series of publicity activities under the theme “Hong Kong’s Action on Salt and Sugar Reduction” were launched by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong in June 2015.

    For more information, please visit the Center for Food Safety at:
    http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/programme/programme_rdss/programme_rdss.html.
     
    Heidi Chan
    Assistant Editor
    Hong Kong Dietitians Association