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C6 Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FITNESS & WELL-BEING

Keep running in the family A recent government study shows that parents who are more physically active will have more lively, healthy kids, writes Jeanette Wang

W

hen Sarah Shrimplin injured herself training for a marathon and couldn’t join her son in the Beat the Banana! Charity Run on March 17, she immediately looked for a replacement, as she knew how much the race meant to six-year-old Tavez. “It’s a family tradition,” says Shrimplin, 44. “Tavez wanted to run because he’s participated in the race every year since he was born – in the first couple of years, of course, in a pushchair or carried on my back.” Tavez ended up doing the race with his godmother. They were among the 250 parent-child pairs who chased five-year-old Debbie Lau Yee, who was dressed as a banana, over a onekilometre stretch of the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. For this year’s race, organisers from the World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong introduced the onekilometre event to promote the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet for children. Childhood obesity is an important health issue in Hong Kong, and is partly caused by physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle, says Ady Leung, the cancer fund’s general manager. “Studies have shown that parents play a crucial role in influencing their kids to develop an active lifestyle,” he says. It seems Hong Kong parents aren’t doing such a good job in that area. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) recently released the findings of a city-wide community fitness test and survey that involved more than 8,100 people, of whom about 70 per cent were children aged three to 19. In summary, Hong Kong children are getting fatter and less active, and parents are a big part of the problem. The study, conducted between April 2011 and January last year, found that children were physically active if their parents were. But only 18 per cent of infants (three to six years) did an hour or more of outdoor activities on average each day. Only about half the infants did physical activities with their family at least once per week. Among children (aged seven to 12), 35 per cent of fathers and 38 per cent of mothers had not done any exercise during the past year. Only about two in five

18% • The ratio of Hong Kong children who do an hour or more of physical exercise a day

Are Hongkongers in dire need of more physical activity ? Statistics based on physical fitness test and survey involving more than 8,000 people (percentage).

Debbie Lau Yee in costume leads the onekilometre Beat the Banana! charity run, organised by the World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong. Photo: Nora Tam families did sports together at least once a week. Among adolescents (13 to 19 years), 48 per cent of fathers and 52 per cent of mothers did not do any exercise in the past year. Only about one in four adolescents did any physical activity with their family at least once a month. The Shrimplins exercise together as a family every weekend. During weekdays, Sarah ensures her helper takes Tavez out to the park. “We’re a very sport-orientated family,” says Sarah, who plays hockey every week and regularly takes part in running events. Tavez, a Primary One pupil at Rosaryhill School on Stubbs Road, was introduced to various sports from a young age. He participates in football, rugby, fencing and swimming. (By the way, he did beat the banana.) Says Shrimplin: “I think it’s very important to be a good role model. If you want your kids to be active, you have to be active.” Hong Kong kids are a sedentary lot. In the study, only about 8 per cent met the recommended physical activity level. So it’s no surprise that overweight and obesity levels are on the rise. Rising screen time (watching TV and movies, playing electronic games, using mobile

Evidence shows that the habits formed in childhood carry right through to adulthood KAREN SADLER, WCRF HK

phones and computers or web surfing) is not helping. The study found that when children’s screen time increased, their level of physical activity level dropped significantly, and their body mass indices rose significantly. One in four adolescents spend three hours or more on screen activities in an average day. Boys who do so have poorer flexibility and cardiovascular fitness than those spending less time in front of a screen. “Parents have a significant influence, because evidence shows that habits formed in childhood carry right through to adulthood. This includes food choices as well as physical activity,” says Karen Sadler, the cancer fund’s development director. Dr Gavin Sandercock, a senior lecturer in clinical

physiology (cardiology) at the University of Essex in Britain, led a study published last year in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health that asked more than 4,000 British schoolchildren to rate how active they thought their parents were. The children then completed a cardiorespiratory fitness test. The test classified a quarter of the children as “unfit” (unable to run at a medium jogging pace of 11 kilometres per hour), and this status was strongly influenced by how active they perceived their parents to be. Active parents were those perceived by their children to do two or three sessions of physical activity per week including walking, cycling, running, playing sport, or going to a gym or an exercise class. “As parents, we don’t need to be Olympic athletes to be good role models for our children,” says Sandercock. “We need our children to know that we encourage and support their physical activity and, most importantly, we need our children to see us being active ourselves.” Not only are Hong Kong parents slacking when it comes to physical activity, the LCSD study also found that 36 per cent of them frequently or occasionally recommended

their children reduce sporting activities for studies. Shrimplin notices the benefits of sport on Tavez and his three-year-old brother. “It’s very important for children to be active. As they get older and the burden of schooling gets heavier, they appreciate it. Exercise helps to clear your mind and makes it easier to concentrate at school.” A recent study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, by Michigan State University, shows that students in the best physical shape outscore their classmates on standardised tests and take home better grades. More than 300 students in sixth through eighth grade at a school in the state of Michigan participated in the study. In 2012-13, the LCSD will organise about 37,800 community recreational and sporting activities for more than 2.1 million participants of different ages and abilities, according to a spokesman. These include tailor-made parent-child training programmes organised in collaboration with the National Sports Associations (NSAs). The LCSD also has the School Sports Programme, which encourages students to try activities guided by qualified

HEALTH BITES

HEALTHY GOURMET

Good relationships are a labour of love A couple who sweep together, keep together. That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of Family Issues. “We found that it didn’t matter who did what, but how satisfied people were with the division of labour,” says Brigham Young University professor Erin Holmes. “When wives are doing work together with their husbands, they are more satisfied with the division of labour,” she says.

Dish of your dreams

Would you like some food with that salt? Nearly 75 per cent of commercial pre-packaged meals and savoury snacks for toddlers in the US are high in sodium, according to an American Heart Association Meeting Report. Researchers analysed more than 1,100 products; those containing more than 210mg of sodium per serving were considered high in sodium. Having strong bones in old age is child’s play Regular exercise when young could help prevent hip fractures later, say researchers from Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden. This is due to increases in peak bone mass that occur in growing children who are physically active. The study involved a controlled exercise intervention for six years in about 2,400 children aged seven to nine. The increase in mineral density in bones of the spine was higher in children who exercised more.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in metres) squared. Male Female Overweight (BMI 23 or above) 7.5 Infants (3-6 years) 11.2 20.5 Children (7-12) 18.3 13.2 Adolescents (13-19) 7.4 23.9 Adults (20-69) 17.8

Obese (BMI 25 or above) 5.5 2.9 10.1 4.5 5.3 2.1 37.3 22.3

Physical activity level

High blood pressure symptoms

Considered “Active”: children = 60 minutes* daily; adolescents = 60 minutes* daily, with any three days at vigorous intensity level; adults = 150 minutes* accumulated over a week.

Resting systolic blood pressure 140mmHg or above, or/and diastolic blood pressure 90mmHg or above.

29.3

28.4

25.7

15.6 9.0 8.4

7.5

5.7

4.2

4.1 1.2

na 2011

2009

Children

Male

Adolescents

*moderate or above intensity physical activity Source: Leisure and Cultural Services Department

Female

Adults SCMP

coaches. To engage young people in a fun way, a BMX (bicycle motocross) fun day and long-distance running training courses were recently introduced. Following the new study findings, the LCSD says it will work with the Education Bureau, Department of Health and other stakeholders to provide “more comprehensive services” to encourage an active lifestyle and daily physical activity. The LCSD will also work with relevant NSAs to improve existing family programmes and design new ones, such as badminton, social dance, hiking

and sports fun days. In addition, five water sports centres under the LCSD will regularly organise different types of activities such as canoeing, windsurfing and sailing for adolescents. While the government, media and other organisations play a role in helping children make better choices for a healthier life, Sadler says parents are the most important. She suggests a simple way for the family to exercise together: everyone wears a pedometer to track how many steps they take daily and turn it into a fun family competition. jeanette.wang@scmp.com

aluminium mould and allow to cool until it sets. • Keep in the refrigerator; when ready to serve, cut into 4cm circles.

For the raspberry sauce 200 grams fresh raspberries 20 grams sugar 50ml apple vinegar • Pour apple vinegar and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the raspberries and reduce for 10 minutes then strain through a sieve.

Preparing a meal helps the mind to relax and stimulates the imagination, so get cooking ................................................ Andrea Oschetti life@scmp.com Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have first suggested the healing power of food, when in 431BC he said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In the past decade, many studies have shown a relationship between what we eat and brain function. Flavanols have been associated with a decreased risk of dementia, according to the American Heart Association. Research by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2009 showed that eating a “heart healthy” diet and participation in moderate physical activity may help preserve our memory and thinking abilities as we age. It suggested that whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and nuts may offer benefits for cognition in later life. Food – or, more specifically, cooking – can help develop our imagination, which is constantly under threat of being repressed, by the “common sense” of the communities in which we live. I spent an afternoon with

chef Pietro Leemann at Ristorante Joia in Milan, Italy. He believes in the power of ideas: “Most chefs make dishes that are a combination of ingredients. But my food is the outcome of a creative artistic process.” As he speaks, Leemann places a dome-shaped crispy leaf of cabbage to conceal a vegetable terrine. He calls the dish “The Navel of the Planet”. The cabbage dome is a symbol for the world and the need for a green solution to protect it. Joia was the first vegetarian restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star. The menu lists dishes such as Wild, Travel Notes, Serendipity in the Garden of My Dreams, and The Phoenix’s Dream. “I look at nature, and I transform it in order to understand it and represent its essence,” says Leemann. “I love to do so by using a tantalising and playful approach.” Leemann believes cooking is a vehicle for creating relationships between ourselves and nature. When the liaison is playful, it works better, like in human relationships. Leemann

presents a dish called Fabrizio Thought About Me, which is named after Fabrizio Marino, Joia’s sous chef. Fabrizio Thought About Me Serves 4 For the terrine 100 grams carrots 100 grams fennel 50 grams leek 100 grams red cabbage 50 grams celery 2 grams orange zest 30 grams butter 5 grams chopped rosemary 200ml water 1 gram agar agar powder Salt • Cut vegetables into small pieces, lightly season with salt and sweat over a very low heat, covered with a lid, until golden brown. • Puree in a food processor with the butter, rosemary and orange zest. • Bring water to the boil with the agar agar, reduce to 50ml, stirring constantly with a whisk. • Add to the vegetables. • Pour the mixture into an

For the pickled pears 2 small pears 200ml water 50 grams sugar 2 grams turmeric 25ml apple vinegar Half gram agar agar powder • Peel the pears and cook in water with the sugar and vinegar until soft. • Cut each pear into four pieces. • Divide the syrup in two. • Mix the turmeric into one half, add the pears and set in the refrigerator. • Mix the other half with the agar agar, boil and reduce to 50ml. • Put the pear jelly into 4cm diameter moulds, pour the agar agar mix on top and leave to set in the refrigerator.

For the green sauce 120 grams parsley 100ml extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp capers 1 tbsp lemon juice 3 anchovy fillets 2 cloves of garlic 2 grams black sesame seeds • Chop the parsley, capers, anchovy fillets and garlic. • Add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir until thick. • Use one terrine circle and one pickled pear circle for the eyes. • Draw a smile with the green sauce and the eyebrow with the raspberry sauce.


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