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December 18, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Health officials check out residents' well-being

CITY officials are visiting homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces to assess health awareness, ahead of local legislation to improve the well-being of Shanghai residents.

The city is set to introduce the nation's first regional health enhancement law, regulating the responsibility of schools, hospitals, workplaces and government departments to promote health education and offer health protection measures to students, patients and employees.

Ahead of this, Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday that officials are making visits to see what measures are already in place.

A 10-year public health enhance-ment plan (2011-2020) is being discussed, with public contributions invited up until December 27.

"Lifestyle is responsible for 60 percent of a person's health situation," said Li Zhongyang, director of the office of Shanghai Health Enhancement Commission.

"Many local residents live an unhealthy lifestyle, with factors such as smoking, consumption of alcohol, excessive intake of oil and salt, lack of exercise and a high number of people being overweight.

"Legislation will help realize health intervention projects, ensuring they are carried out properly. Many Western countries already have such laws," said Li.

About 31 percent of Shanghai residents are overweight - 6 percentage points higher than the national level. Some 8.9 percent of locals are obese, while the national level is 7.6 percent. A body mass index of over 24 indicates overweight. Obesity starts at a BMI of 28. These are lower thresholds than in the West.

The plan will include campaigns to promote a good diet and physical exercise, reduce smoking and alcohol consumption, improve mental health and encourage responsible use of prescription drugs.

The campaign will also emphasize traditional Chinese medicine, good practices in neighborhoods and workplaces and special provisions for women, children and the elderly.

"Practical health education and intervention will be highlighted in the 10-year plan," Li said. Inspections will continue through part of next year. The plan will then be put to lawmakers for consideration.

Meanwhile, concerned authorities say Shanghai schoolchildren and students "must do better" when it comes to their physical health and participation in sports activities.

Local schools have a high percentage of overweight or obese students, according to a study. About 16 percent of children aged between seven and 17 years are overweight, with 12.5 percent obese. The incidence of obesity is three times the national level.

More than half of middle school students suffer from shortsightedness, and the proportion reaches 76 percent by high school.

Authorities have examined students from 46 local schools and four universities in six districts since September.

The final results will be released next May, said Yang Yang, deputy director of the Shanghai Student Physical Quality Monitoring Center.

These should show students' overall condition and guide physical education policy, officials said.


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