Employees in Hong Kong are among the Unhealthiest in APAC Region: Study Finds

May 31, 20168:45 am426 views

Lack of sleep, long working hours and Internet addiction is negatively impacting the health of employees in Hong Kong, according to a study from insurance group AIA Hong Kong.

The survey shows that getting sufficient sleep is the most important driver of health, according to adults in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong adults would ideally like to get 8 hours of sleep a night, in reality they only sleep 6.5 hours on average.

It also showed that stress levels in Hong Kong are generally worse than the regional average (6.7 vs. 6.2). The main sources of stress are work pressures (77%), financial worries (75%), managing family needs (72%) and concerns about health (68%).

Despite their many health concerns, only 29% say they had a medical check-up in the past year, the lowest of the 15 APAC markets and a significant decrease from previous years (37% in 2013). The survey results indicate that employers should help their employees get health check-ups, including giving them sufficient time off to do so.

The study also showed that 69% of Hong Kong adults say they exercise regularly, but exercise on average only 2.7 hours a week, lower than the regional average of 3 hours and well below the 30 minutes a day recommended by the Hong Kong Department of Health.

Furthermore, on average, adults in HK spend 3.7 hours a day on the internet for non-work purposes, in contrast to the 2.7 hours a week spent exercising.

Adults in Hong Kong are aware such internet addiction has negative impact on their health: bad for their posture (74%), less time for exercise (69%) and less time for sleep (71%) and contributing also to unhealthy eating habits such as eating while distracted. Despite such awareness, change would be difficult with 64% of Hong Kong adults admitting to being addicted to spending time online.

The survey showed that Mainland China and Macau were placed first and second respectively in the AIA index and Singapore took 11th place in the survey. Hong Kong scores a disappointing 57 points out of a possible 100 in the 2016 Healthy Living Index, the third wave of AIA’s landmark survey of over 10,000 adults per wave across 15 markets in Asia Pacific.

With some markets showing improvements in their Healthy Living Index scores, Hong Kong is now last (15th) in the Index rankings – a further decline from its 13th rank in 2013.

Jacky Chan, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Hong Kong and Macau said, “These results for Hong Kong are disappointing – and it is important to know why. As a company committed to helping people lead longer, healthier and better lives, understanding how adults feel and behave is a vital first step to identify ways we can help. This is why we launched our landmark Healthy Living Index in 2011 to not only know how adults feel at a given point in time but also to see trends over time.”

Hong Kong adults are not really satisfied with their health
AIA Healthy Living Index is a composite measure taking into account individual’s satisfaction with their own health as well as their various behaviours. According to the survey results, Hong Kong adults perform poorly on both fronts.

Hong Kong adults only gave themselves only a 6.4 out of 10 satisfaction rating and 74% feel their health is not as good as it was five years ago. They recognise that healthy living is multi-faceted, including both physical elements – getting sufficient sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthily – as well as mental aspects such as maintaining a positive mindset and knowing how to reduce stress.

See: 21 Best Companies in Hong Kong to Work for in Asia

Hong Kong adults the most sleep deprived in the region 
Getting sufficient sleep is the most important driver of health, according to adults in Hong Kong as well as their counterparts across the region. While Hong Kong adults would ideally like to get 8 hours of sleep a night, in reality they only sleep 6.5 hours on average. This sleep deficit of 1.5 hours is the highest amongst the 15 markets surveyed.

2 in 3 adults want to lose weight, on average, a significant 6.9 kilos — a challenge given not enough exercise, not enough sleep, spending too much online and other unhealthy habits.

69% of Hong Kong adults say they exercise regularly, but exercise on average only 2.7 hours a week, lower than the regional average of 3 hours and well below the 30 minutes a day recommended by Hong Kong Department of Health.

Their attempts to eat healthier are still mainly restricted to the basics of drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Misperceptions abound with regard to healthy foods – that they are more expensive (80%), are harder to prepare (72%) and also take longer (71%) to prepare and don’t taste very good (76%) – findings which indicate that Hong Kong adults could use education on healthy eating and help with healthy recipes.

With insufficient exercise and poor eating habits, it is not surprising that 43% of Hong Kong adults are pre-obese or obese based on the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale. Even 62% of those with normal BMI would like to lose weight, probably driven in part by advertising in Hong Kong promoting weight loss.

Internet addiction remains a modern day threat to healthy living

Hong Kong is one of the most connected markets in the world with high ownership of Smartphone and other electronic devices. On average, adults in HK spend 3.7 hours a day on the internet for non-work purposes, in contrast to the 2.7 hours a week spent exercising.

Adults in Hong Kong are aware such internet addiction has negative impact on their health: bad for their posture (74%), less time for exercise (69%) and less time for sleep (71%) and contributing also to unhealthy eating habits such as eating while distracted.

Despite such awareness, change would be difficult with 64% of Hong Kong adults admitting to being addicted to spending time online – much higher than regional average of 57%.

Hong Kong lowest number to have check-up

Given the famously intense pace of life and long working hours in Hong Kong, stress levels are generally worse than the regional average (6.7 vs. 6.2). The main sources of stress are work pressures (77%), financial worries (75%), managing family needs (72%) and concerns about health (68%).

The main health concerns are heart disease (74%), cancer (74%), diabetes (73%) and having a stroke (73%). A significant number of adults admit to having concerns about mental well-being such as Alzheimer’s/senility (71%), anxiety (64%) and depression (63%).

Despite their many health concerns, only 29% say they had a medical check-up in the past year, the lowest of the 15 markets and a significant decrease from previous years (37% in 2013). The survey results indicate that employers should help their employees get health check-ups, including giving them sufficient time off to do so.

High self-awareness on the need to do more, but Hong Kong people welcome help to do more

Hong Kong adults are forthright in admitting that they can definitely do more to improve their health (85%). While only 8% have taken major steps towards to improve their health, encouragingly, 69% say that they have taken some small steps in that direction.

What would motivate them and reinforce healthy behaviours? According to Hong Kong adults, seeing tangible results – feeling better physically (83%) and mentally (77%) and looking better (80%) — would encourage them to do more.

They also say that helping them change one step at a time (79%) by setting smaller, more achievable goals (77%), providing updates on progress (77%) and rewards for achieving goals (75%) are all important motivators.

Also read: Employees in Hong Kong Demand Better Health Benefits, Against the Backdrop of Rising Medical Costs

Image credit: ejinsight.com

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