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Untitled Document

Nearly 30% of Taiwanese teenagers are overweight or obese: survey Central News Agency

Nearly 30 percent of local junior and senior high school students are overweight or obese, according to the results of surveys conducted by the Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH's Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) recently released the results of its latest surveys on junior and senior high school students' health habits conducted in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

The surveys are conducted once every three years.

Survey results showed that about one out of every four junior high school students was overweight or obese and that the ratio among students at senior high schools, vocational high schools and junior colleges was even higher at one out of every three.

Regardless of age, both overweight and obese male students outnumbered their female counterparts, the surveys found.

A further analysis of the respondents' lifestyles found that nearly 80 percent of junior high school students surveyed drank sugar-filled beverages and 30 percent of them ate fast foods more than twice per week.

The survey also found that about 40 percent of junior high students exercised less than three times per week while 20 percent said they watched TV and 10 percent said they worked with computers or played video games more than two hours per day.

According to the surveys, the ratios of senior high school students adopting these many unhealthy behaviors were all much higher than their junior high counterparts.

Bureau Deputy Director Wu Hsiu-ying said local schools should prepare more health education materials to teach students how to maintain balanced and healthy diets and cultivate good health habits.

In addition, Wu said, public health and education authorities should cooperate with medical and parental organizations to help prevent youths from falling victim to obesity-related diseases.

Noting that obesity could lead to metabolic syndrome -- a collection of risk factors that can lead to heart problems or diabetes -- Lee Yen-chin, director of the Department of Endocrinology at Mackay Memorial Hospital, said the medical community does not encourage prescribing drugs for children and adolescents suffering from obesity-related syndromes.

"Instead, we prefer to encourage them to control their diets and exercise regularly to regain their health," he said.