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Healthy tips for Chinese New Year

     The Department of Health (DH) today (January 29) reminded members of the public to maintain a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activities during the Chinese New Year (CNY).

     Unhealthy eating and lack of physical activities are amongst the leading causes of chronic diseases.

     "It is common for people's daily routine to be disturbed during CNY. When faced with tempting festive foods, members of the public may indulge in overeating or consume the wrong food leading to ill health or problems after the CNY holidays," said the representative of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, Dr Edmund Lam, at a press conference organised by DH today.

     Dr Lam pointed out that some of his patients had come forward for gastrointestinal problems after the CNY.  

     People with chronic diseases, in particular those with hypertension or diabetes mellitus, should avoid over-consumption of festive foods which are high in salt, sugar or calories.  

     "Some diabetic patients have experienced a surge in blood glucose level due to excessive intake of high-fat foods during CNY," Dr Lam added.

     "Apart from diet, inadequate exercise is another major reason for people putting on weight after the festive season".  

     According to the survey report published by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department last year, a significant proportion of the public, ranging from children to the elderly, lack sufficient physical activities to maintain good health. In addition, an increase in children's screen time (watching TV or movies, playing electronic games, using computer for web-surfing, etc) would mean a significant drop in their physical activity level.

     The dietitian of DH's Central Health Education Unit, Ms Mandy Kwan, added, "Apart from maintaining adequate physical activity levels, we should also limit our intake of some conventional foods served the Family Reunion Dinner and the New Year Feast, such as pork brisket, poultry with skin, trotters, chicken's feet, Chinese sausages and roasted meat, which are often laden with salt and fat."

     The public are reminded to watch out for the hidden health risks in some of the festive foods, which are high in salt, fat and sugar.

     "An adult who requires a daily energy intake of 2,000 kilocalories should limit the intake of total fat to not more than 60 grams. One piece of Chinese sausage (45 grams) and two pieces of pork trotters (total about 140 grams) will contain about 38 grams of fat (about 7.5 teaspoons of oil) which exceeds 60 per cent of the daily intake limit of fat," Ms Kwan said.

     "Many people are aware that soft drinks are high in sugar and may replace them with pure fruit juice. However, pure fruit juice is rich in naturally occurring fructose. A glass of pure orange juice (240 ml) will contained around 21 grams of sugar, which equals around 40 per cent of the daily upper consumption limit of sugar for an adult," She added.

     Health is wealth. Healthy festive eating may not be hard to achieve after all. Ms Kwan reminded members of the public to take heed of the following advice when preparing the Family Reunion Dinner and the New Year Feast:

* Choose a wide variety of fresh and low-fat ingredients, such as lean meat, poultry without skin, non-fried bean products, egg, fish and seafood. Limit the amount of high-fat and processed meat, e.g. pork brisket, poultry with skin, trotters, chicken's feet, Chinese sausages and roasted meat.

* Prepare more low-fat vegetable dishes. Vegetables are low in energy and filling.

* Use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, blanching, stewing, and stir-frying with little amount of oil to reduce intake of fat.

* Choose natural ingredients for seasoning, for example, ginger, basil and coriander. Limit the use of high-salt and high-sugar sauce and dressing whenever possible.

* Include grains and cereals such as rice or noodles. Avoid mixing rice with gravy from the dishes.

* Serve plain water as the main beverage.

* Prepare fresh fruits as dessert.

     When celebrating CNY, members of the public are reminded to observe healthy eating principles, i.e. consumption of more fibre and less salt, oil and sugar. Intake of alcoholic and sugary beverages which are energy-dense should be reduced if not avoided. Making use of the holidays, the public could engage in more outdoor activities with friends and family, which will bring them many memorable moments. Parents should also act as role models for children in order to engage them in physical activities.

     Gifts are presented during CNY as gestures of love and care. For a change, how about healthier gift options such as fresh fruits, dry-roasted plain nuts, tea leaves, dried mushrooms, dried scallops and non-fried instant noodles.

Ends/Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:15


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