It has been reported that the Secretary for Food and Health indicated in the middle of last year that over 60 per cent of Hong Kong people could not meet the standard set by the World Health Organization regarding the amount of physical activities. For example, a survey found that on average, Hong Kong people only spent one to two days a week doing physical exercises for 10 minutes. On the other hand, some insurance companies have launched plans to encourage their clients to do more physical exercises. Under the plans, clients make use of a fitness tracker wristband, a device which has become popular in recent years, to record data of their physical activities, and they will be rewarded with premium discounts when the amounts of their physical activities have reached pre-set targets. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it compiles statistics regularly at present on the amounts of physical activities (e.g. the number of hours of aerobic and weight-bearing exercises done per week, the types of physical activities, the step count, the calorie expenditure of the exercises) done by members of the public; if it does, of the latest data; if not, whether the relevant bureaux (e.g. the Food and Health Bureau, the Innovation and Technology Bureau) and government departments (including the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD)) have studied the use of new technological equipment (e.g. fitness tracker wristbands) to collect statistical data on the amounts of physical activities done by members of the public for reference by health assessment studies and healthcare planning to be conducted in future;
(2) whether it has assessed if the offer of premium discounts or other concessions to clients is effective in encouraging them to do more physical exercises; if it has assessed, of the outcome; if it has not assessed, the reasons for that; whether it will consider promoting the use of such an approach in other industries, e.g. encouraging healthcare institutions to offer discounts on outpatient clinic services and drug charges to patients whose amounts of physical activities have reached pre-set targets; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether the Government will enhance the existing measures adopted by relevant government departments in promoting physical activities; e.g. whether LCSD has examined reducing the fees for its recreation and sports facilities, providing more recreation and sports facilities such as fitness rooms, and organising the “Sport for All Day” more frequently; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government had all along been actively promoting “Sport for All” to achieve the policy target of promoting sports in the community. In order to encourage the public to do more physical exercises and develop a healthy lifestyle, we provide a wide range of recreation and sports programmes as well as open up facilities for people of different age and physical ability. After consolidating the information provided by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Food and Health Bureau, the Innovation and Technology Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), my reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(1) Since 2004, the Department of Health (DH) has regularly conducted telephone surveys among community-dwelling adults aged between 18 to 64 to collect information on health-related behaviours which include frequency and duration of their physical activities. The Behavioural Risk Factor Survey in 2014 interviewed more than 4 000 Hong Kong citizens and found nearly two-fifths of the respondents (37.5 per cent) attaining the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended level of physical activities during the seven days prior to the survey and 43.7 per cent spending a daily average of 31 minutes or more on walking (Note: The WHO recommends adults aged between 18 and 64 to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.). Reports and statistics of the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveys can be found on the Centre for Health Protection website of the DH.
On the other hand, the Community Sports Committee (CSC) of the Sports Commission has conducted two studies, namely the Participation Patterns of Hong Kong People in Physical Activities and the Physical Fitness Test for the Community in 2008 and 2012 respectively. The former aims to gather information on the extent, frequency, preference and other data of the public in taking physical activities, whereas the latter aims to collect data on the physical measurements, cardio-respiratory function and fitness performance of the public by way of fitness tests. The LCSD will continue to work with stakeholders to publicise the aforesaid message and encourage the public to do more physical exercises.
The above three studies were conducted by means of telephone interview, questionnaire and physical fitness test, which were effective in collecting the data required. At present, the Government has no plan to make use of a fitness tracker wristband to collect data of physical activities of the public. According to our understanding, there is currently no standard for statistical data on the amount of physical activities that may be used as reference by health assessment studies and healthcare planning to be conducted in future.
(2) The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has kept in view the developments of the insurance market. The OCI is well aware that some insurance companies have launched promotion plans under which clients will enjoy premium discounts by doing more physical exercises. In terms of mode and operation details, such promotion plans mainly measure the amount of physical activities of the clients by means of intelligent devices so as to encourage them to embrace healthy lifestyle while enjoying premium discounts on medical insurance and other concessions. As such plans have been implemented for a relatively short period of time and in a small number only, the OCI is not in a position to draw conclusion on the popularity and effectiveness of such plans.
The DH notes that some overseas studies recorded the daily amount of exercise and provided reward to the subjects when they reached a specified target so as to encourage them to do more exercises. However, the scientific evidence is insufficient at this stage to prove the sustainable and long-term effectiveness of such rewards. The DH will keep in view the relevant studies and subsequent developments. At the same time, when devising treatment plans for patients, the Hospital Authority (HA) will, taking into account the clinical needs of patients, recommend patients to perform suitable exercise at an appropriate level (e.g. walking, hiking and swimming), with a view to enhancing public health awareness.
(3) The LCSD currently provides different types of recreation and sport facilities for the public in all 18 districts to encourage members of the public to do more physical exercises. The LCSD will continue to improve and increase recreation and sports venues and facilities. Meanwhile, the LCSD organises a wide range of recreation and sports programmes every year, including community-based programmes (such as sports training courses, competitions and fun fairs) and biennial activities such as the Hong Kong Games, the Corporate Games and the Masters Games for people of different age, ability and interest, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. The LCSD also provides a subvention to 59 “national sports associations” (NSAs) under the Sports Subvention Scheme to help the NSAs promote and develop their sports at different levels.
Regarding the fees and charges for the recreation and sports facilities, the LCSD introduced the Fitness Room Monthly Ticket Scheme and the Public Swimming Pool Monthly Ticket Scheme in 2001 and 2012 respectively. At present, peak and non-peak fees for using fitness room per person hour are $14 and $13 respectively with monthly tickets at $180, and admission fees to swimming pools for weekdays (Monday to Friday, except Public Holiday) and holidays (Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday) are $17 and $19 respectively with monthly tickets at $300. Senior citizens aged 60 or above, persons with disabilities and one minder each, children aged 3 to 13 and full-time students enjoy half-rate concession (including monthly tickets). In 2013, the LCSD also aligned the fees and charges for its recreation and sports facilities in the urban area and the New Territories based on the principle that the lower rate would prevail.
Since 2009, the LCSD organises “Sport for All Day” every August to encourage members of the public to take part in sports and physical activities. Most of LCSD’s recreation and sports facilities are open for free use by members of the public on the day. People of different age and levels of physical ability can choose suitable facilities at which to exercise, according to their preferences. Fees and charges of LCSD’s recreation and sports facilities have been maintaining at a reasonable level, while the utilisation rate of such facilities has been on an upward trend in recent years. The organisation of “Sport for All Day” one day every year has taken into account resource allocation and struck the balance of needs and expectations among stakeholders, including other individual and group users of such facilities.