EatSmart Menu To Promote Healthy Eat-Out Habit

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Hong Kong Department of Health will launch a territory-wide campaign to promote healthy eating in food premises next year.

Speaking at a press conference, the Assistant Director of Health (Health Promotion), Dr Regina Ching extended a cordial invitation to all food premises to take part in and become an EatSmart restaurant.

Entitled "[email protected]" Campaign, the event aims to promote a healthy eating habit among Hong Kong people by raising their awareness and encouraging restaurants to provide more healthy dishes for customers to choose from.

Participants will provide healthier options with more fruit or vegetables, and less oil, salt and sugar according to the "Guidebook for Managers and Chefs" compiled by the Department.

Dr Ching said the Campaign was developed from the well-received pilot project launched earlier this year, in which 300 restaurants participated.

"Results of evaluation study upon completion of the one-month project showed that over 98% of customers supported healthy menus while most customers (75%) would patronise again as a result," Dr Ching said.

"On the other hand, the findings showed that 95% of restaurant workers found more customers opted for healthy dishes. Ninety-eight per cent of the workers considered it feasible to set healthy menu in restaurants."

Dr Ching said, "Taking reference from the experience gained in the pilot project, we have fine-tuned the details of the Campaign in order to provide better support to restaurants."

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"We sincerely invite and encourage all types of food premises to join us in creating a healthy cooking and eating trend," she added. So far more than 300 food premises have expressed interest in participating in the Campaign."

Dr Ching pointed out that unhealthy eating was one of the leading causes giving rise to chronic diseases.

"It is so common for Hong Kong people to eat out that it is not easy for them to observe healthy eating principles, i.e. consumption of more fibre and low intake of salt, oil and sugar.

"Restaurants definitely play an important role in promoting healthy eating as a means to improve population health," Dr Ching said.

According to the findings of the Population Health Survey 2003/2004, about 4 in 10 and 3 in 10 respondents had the problem of overweight and high blood pressure respectively. Risk factors for major non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood cholesterol were also common.

In 2006, cancer, heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) accounted for 56% of all registered deaths, creating a tremendous economic burden on society.

"We anticipate that if people choose healthier dishes for lunch for five days in a week according to our examples set forth, they can cut down their intake of oil, salt and sugar significantly after one month, by 500ml, 30gram (five teaspoons) and 160gram (40 teaspoons) respectively," Dr Ching said.

"Moreover, if this excess energy is not dissipated through regular exercise, 1 kg fat will have been accumulated after one month," she added.

The Department will hold briefing sessions for participating restaurants. Restaurants will follow DH's nutritional requirements to add and modify part of their menus to prepare "Dish with More Fruit and Vegetables" and "3 Less Dish".

"Dish with More Fruit and Vegetables" means that either fruit and vegetables are the sole ingredients of the dish or they occupy at least double the amount of meat (or protein) present in the dish. "3 Less Dish" means that the dish contains less oil, salt and sugar as a result of a healthier choice of ingredients or cooking method.

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