Eatsmart Menu To Promote Healthy Eating In Restaurants

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Healthy Eating In Restaurants

Hong Kong Department of Health will launch a month-long pilot project to promote healthy eating at restaurants as part of efforts to address the problem of obesity and chronic diseases.

The event will start on July 30 and involve about 300 food premises. It is the prelude of a territory-wide healthy eating campaign, entitled [email protected], to be launched later in the year.

Participating restaurants will provide healthier options with more fruit or vegetables, and less oil, salt and sugar.

To help food premises take part in the pilot, the department has compiled the "Guide Book for Restaurant Managers" and "Guide Book for Chefs" as reference to prepare healthier dishes for customers.

Speaking at a launching ceremony today (July 20), the Assistant Director of Health (Health Promotion), Dr Regina Ching, said unhealthy eating was closely linked with the development of obesity and people who were overweight as well as chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

"The percentage of people aged between 18 and 64 who were obese or overweight rose from 36% in April, 2005, to 41% in April, 2006, and diet-related chronic diseases accounted for more than half (57%) of all registered deaths in 2005."

She pointed out that according to the "Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health" formulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), healthy eating implied the acquisition of energy balance; an increased consumption of fruit and vegetables; limited energy intake from total fats; limited intake of free sugar and limited salt consumption.

Dr Ching said the campaign was particularly timely because more and more people chose to eat out and many of them preferred healthier food choices.

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"According to a study conducted in 2005, 52% of the Hong Kong people ate out for lunch five times or more a week. The figures for eating out for breakfast and dinner were 32% and 11% respectively.

"In the first quarter of 2007, a Department of Health survey among 2005 people aged 12 years and above found that 93% preferred to have more healthier options in the menus when they were eating out.

"Sixty per cent of them considered the food they consumed contained too much oil and fats and 53% considered the amount of vegetables provided were not enough," Dr Ching said.

Participating restaurants will follow the guidelines issued by the department to prepare two types of dishes - "Dish with More fruit and vegetables" and "Three 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. "Three less Dish" means that the dish contains less oil, salt and sugar.

Dr Ching said participating restaurants would use the promotional materials provided by the department to indicate in the menu the healthier options and to promote them to their customers.

"The pilot project could help us identify unforeseen circumstances to fine-tune the campaign for enhancing its effectiveness upon the territory-wide launch later in the year," Dr Ching said.

In support of the [email protected] campaign, the Kwun Tong Healthy City Steering Committee has also organised a district-based project called "Healthy Eating in Kwun Tong". A total of 13 food premises in Kwun Tong will participate and provide healthier options to customers.

The list of restaurants taking part in the pilot project has been compiled and uploaded to the Department of Health's Central Health Education Unit website (www.cheu.gov.hk).

The Campaign is overseen by a task force set up by the department in April this year. Members came from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, medical and dietetic organisations, academic sector and the catering industry.

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