By Elmer W. Cagape
As countries like the United States experience high obesity rates (more than one-third among its adult population), Hong Kong is taking the opposite direction. The number of young women in the city who are underweight has almost doubled in the past 15 years, according to a study made by a local doctor.
Dr Annie Kung of Queen Mary Hospital found out that the proportion of Hong Kong women aged between 20 and 29 classified as having low body weight during 2005 to 2010 was nearly 40 per cent. This is a sharp increase from the 23 per cent observed from the same age-group monitored between 1995 to 2000.
It’s not surprising that local people are obsessed with being slim, or skinny, depending on who you ask. When you walk down the MTR station, billboards plastered across the walls advertise slimming shops that use popular celebrities or at least those who can flaunt their slim, or skinny bodies. When you visit Mannings or Watson’s, it isn’t difficult to find a shelf full of weight-loss pills and other slimming supplements.
Keeping body weight under conditions classified as obese helps avoid heart ailments and related disorders. But being underweight also has risks. The Queen Mary Hospital’s study indicated that more women are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition described as the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time.
Using the body mass index as basis of the study, close to four out of every 10 young Hong Kong women are at risk to osteoporosis.
Although the study focused on women in their 20′s, increases are also observed across other age groups. About 30 per cent of those 80 or older were found to be underweight in the second phase. The Osteoporosis Society of Hong Kong says 300,000 women and 100,000 men suffer from the disease.