SINGAPORE COMES TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
New initiatives to encourage Singaporeans to lead a healthy lifestyle Launch of healthy lifestyle index and first digital TV health and wellness channel in the Asia-Pacific to increase health literacy
Singapore, 27 October 2012: The National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign was started by then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1992 to ensure that Singaporeans were aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
2. A number of important indicators have shown that Singapore is on the right track with regards to health. Singaporeans are exercising more, eating better and undergoing regular health screening.
Physical Activity: More Singaporeans are incorporating physical activity into their daily routine with about 6 in 10 (60%) Singaporeans meeting guidelines for sufficient total physical activity equivalent to 150 minutes a week;
- Obesity: Despite the soaring global obesity trends globally, Singapore’s obesity level in 2010 was 11% – lower than the OECD average of 17% and those of developed countries such as the USA at 34%, Australia at 25%;
- Smoking: Heralded as having one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, the effectiveness of Singapore’s anti-smoking campaigns has resulted in the daily smoking rate declining from 18% in 1992 to 14% in 2010.
- Diet: The consumption rate of healthier food products carrying the Healthier Choice Symbol has steadily increased from 29% in 2002 to 49% in 2009;
- Health Screening: About 80% of the population are regularly screened for high blood cholesterol and hypertension.
3. National efforts to keep Singaporeans healthy were also recently recognised when Singapore topped Bloomberg’s global health survey. While Singapore has come a long way in its health promotion efforts, a series of new initiatives were unveiled today by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to encourage Singaporeans to make healthier choices, by tapping on community support and healthy lifestyle tools accessible via new media.
4. Prime Minister Lee said, “Unhealthy lifestyles cause serious health problems in many developed countries. In the US and UK, obesity has become an epidemic. Obese people are more likely to suffer from diabetes and hypertension, so these diseases are increasing too. The developed countries are doing their utmost to tackle the problem. But their lifestyles, diets and social environments have become entrenched and extremely hard to change. New York City is even legislating to limit the size of soft drinks sold, because sugar in soft drinks contributes significantly to obesity. Sceptics doubt such a radical move will work, though there is some scientific evidence that this can help.”
5. “Singapore has been promoting healthy lifestyles for 20 years. We have made progress – more people are exercising, fewer are smoking and Singaporeans are generally more aware of the need to stay fit and healthy. But our obesity rates are going up too, with more fast foods and sedentary occupations. And we must never let our guard down against smoking, especially among our young. Hence, we must redouble our efforts and see what more we can do to regulate advertising and promote healthy food choices. At the same time, each person has to take responsibility for his own health. We must each watch our weight, eat healthily and exercise regularly, and avoid smoking.”
6. Along with some 20,000 participants, PM Lee revisited the achievements of the past 20 years of the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign and took part in the Great Singapore Workout which continues to be an annual highlight.
Celebrating together 20 years of healthy lifestyle
7. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said “I am glad the NHLC has become the national platform to promote healthy living for Singaporeans since I launched it some 20 years ago. Over the years, the Health Promotion Board has done a good job to ensure that the NHLC remains in tune with the changing lifestyles and health needs of Singaporeans, by promoting innovative health initiatives and programmes aimed at improving the health of all Singaporeans. I hope the NHLC will not only continue to address current health needs of Singaporeans but also to prepare Singaporeans to deal with future health challenges. This will become more important as Singapore’s population ages.”
8. Over the past 20 years, the NHLC has been the national platform to promote a culture of health. In its early years, it focused primarily on public education and raised awareness of healthy living and has been at the forefront of initiatives including:
- Great Singapore Workout – first launched in 1993 and has since been a yearly highlight of the NHLC;
- Ask for Programme – started in 1994 and encourages consumers to ask for more vegetables, less oil, salt, sugar and syrups when eating out;
- A.C.T.I.V.E Day or All Companies/Communities Together in Various Exercises Day – commenced in 1999 to encourage health-promoting activities in workplaces such as exercise programmes and training courses on organising comprehensive health promotion programmes in the community;
- Healthy Mind, Happy Life – developed in 2007 to improve mental well-being;
- Lose to Win – a holistic weight management programme that encourages Singaporeans to lose weight through healthy lifestyle practices was launched in 2009. Lose to Win had 251 participants in its first run and witnessed weight loss among 94% of the participants.
Co-creating sustainable health solutions
9. Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said, “The NHLC has entered its 20th year. After two decades, Singapore, through HPB and its many partners, is still actively promoting a healthy lifestyle, through regular exercise, healthy diet, smoking cessation and mental wellness. It shows our government’s seriousness in creating a healthy nation, and continuous investment in health promotion. It takes years to achieve the kind of results that Singapore has been recognised for and I urge all Singaporeans to continue on with the good efforts. I am heartened to note that in recent times, HPB has embraced a ground-up approach where it works closely with grassroots leaders and communities to co-plan, co-develop and co-implement relevant health promotion initiatives to 4 meet the local needs of the residents. Such a community-centric strategy is complemented by broader efforts to build health promoting ecosystems through strong public-people-private sector collaborations. At the same time, HPB has also nurtured an army of Health Ambassadors working on the ground to inspire their fellow Singaporeans to live healthily. These strategies have been pivotal in the success of its many health promotion efforts.”
10. Mr. Ang Hak Seng, CEO, HPB, noted, “In recent years, HPB has focused on making the healthy choice accessible and affordable for all Singaporeans. This year, we will be launching a Healthy Lifestyle Index and healthyMEtv to give Singaporeans access to their own virtual healthy lifestyle personal coach, while the Healthy Shopper Programme has been developed with leading supermarket chains, so that affordable healthier food choices are within easy reach. However, HPB cannot do this alone and I am happy to report that over the past year, more than 4,000 Singaporeans have stepped forward to join our growing Health Ambassador Network. They have given us valuable insights into how our programmes can be better designed, but more importantly they have also been part of our implementation so that we co-create a healthier future together.”
11. The Healthy Lifestyle Index is the first tool of its kind to be rolled out nation-wide in the world. Available online in all four official languages for anyone aged 18 and above, the index is in the form of a quick and easy to use questionnaire of ten questions, each covering one of the following ten health domains: Body Mass Index (BMI); physical activity; diet; smoking; alcohol; sleep; stress; depression; social/emotional support and health screenings. The index seeks to assess the overall health behaviour of the participant and is developed to provide advice and recommendations on appropriate HPB programmes to support the individual participant and help improve health behaviours.
12. To strengthen health literacy in Singapore, healthyMEtv promises a free one-stop digital channel to view programmes on wellbeing and learn about healthy living. Available on demand and around the clock via any internet connected device, programming will range from short videos on a range of medical conditions to tips on exercise, healthy eating and relaxation. The channel is the first digital health channel in the Asia-Pacific region and boasts a team of inspiring and energetic TV presenters including Darren Lim and Nikki Muller and well-being experts Kristy Curtis and Dr. Robert Sloan.
13. To round out the new initiatives, the Healthy Shopper programme is aimed at helping Singaporeans make the healthier choice in food and ingredients when grocery shopping. A joint collaboration between the HPB and Singapore’s major supermarket chains, NTUC Fairprice, Cold Storage, Giant, and Sheng Siong, shoppers will now be able to easily identify healthier food and ingredients such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins by an easily identifiable Healthy Shopper logo. In addition, a selection of healthier food items will be available every week at promotional prices to ensure they remain affordable to all.
Annex 1 Factsheet on Advertising Guidelines
Annex 2 Factsheet on NHLC milestone activities
Annex 3 Factsheet on Health Ambassador Network
Annex 4 Factsheet on Healthy Lifestyle Index
Annex 5 Factsheet on healthyMEtv
Annex 6 Factsheet on Healthy Shopper Annex 7 Quotes on Healthy Lifestyle Index