Health & Environment

Health & Environment

Hong Kong's first solar-powered food truck wins catering award

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Holly Chik、Michelle NgEdited by: Choy York Borg Paulus
  • 2017-11-07

Hong Kong's first green food truck won the Gold Prize of Catering in Traditional Cuisine of CLP’s Greenplus Award Programme. The solar-power panels, which cost over $20,000, are installed on the vehicle's roof to supply electricity for fans and for customers to charge their electronic devices. “The eye-catching panels also demonstrates the eco-friendliness of the vehicle whereas other energy-saving measures are usually not obvious,” said Trevor Ng, Managing Director of Pat Chun, who has been operating the $800,000 truck since March this year. The company also adopts an energy management system which can be operated with a smartphone to improve energy efficiency. “With the system, we can collect real-time energy consumption data and adjust the use of electricity,” said Ng. For example, they can use the remaining heat generated by the automatic rice-fryer to cook their stewed beef brisket. To reduce interior temperature, they opted for a heat-resistant automatic rice-fryer. The solar panels on the roof also serve as a heat barrier during hotter days. A centrifugal range hood and a grease trap are also installed to collect used cooking oil that will be converted to biodiesel for the car. Ng said they save about 25% on their electricity bill after implementing these measures. Such environmental protection measures “mitigate climate change, lower business cost and create new business opportunities,” said Philip Yung Wai-hung, Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism).  

Health & Environment

Two out of 40 prepackaged juices found to contain mycotoxin

  Consumer Council said two of prepackaged juices samples were tested positive for patulin, a mycotoxin a UN committee on Food Additives say could suppress immunoreactions, damage nerves and affect the development of infants. Although patulin is commonly present in decaying fruits, especially apples, “the risk is higher in juices because mould cannot be seen”, said council spokesman Michael Hui King-man. The distributors have instantly removed the two cold pressed apple and blended apple juices, in which the amount of patulin have exceeded the Centre for Food Safety's action level. The council also found that the dietary fibre content of all 40 samples, including those with fruit pulps claims, was lower than the detection limit of less than 1.1g/100ml of fruit juice. Vitamin C content in apple juices was also found generally lower than 2mg/100ml, whilst that in orange juices, on the whole, was higher, ranging from 11 to 52mg/100ml. High sugar content in all samples also entailed that they are “not deemed as a low-sugar food” under Hong Kong’s current nutrition labelling standards. For the sample with the most sugar, drinking 1 bottle of 360ml of juice would amount to 46g of sugar intake. In other words, it is equivalent to 92% of an adult average daily intake of 50g free sugars limit. The council urged consumers not to substitute fruit juice for fruit because juices contain less vitamin C and fibre but are more expensive. Reported by Holly Chik Edited by Daisy Lee

Health & Environment

Parents and students criticised Carrie Lam's neglect of student suicides

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Angie Chan Wing Ling、Ezra Cheung、Japson Melanie Jane、Michelle NgEdited by: Winnie Ngai、Jianne Soriano
  • 2017-10-11

The Hong Kong Chief Executive paid little attention to current youth problems in her maiden 195-page policy address released in the Legislative Council this morning. Various stakeholders, including parent and student representatives and social workers, expressed their disappointment with the report, accusing the leader of neglecting the lives of Hong Kong students. Covering youth policies in just five pages, she put the spotlight on their participation in politics: creating opportunities for young people to join the Central Policy Unit to be re-organised soon and different commissions under the 13 policy bureaux. Lam also focused on the provision of internship and exchange opportunities outside the city. “We will strive to do our best in youth development work by addressing their concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership,” she said during the Legco meeting, “and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate.” Yet, the city's leader has failed to mention a single word about the severity of the student suicide epidemic which has claimed 432 lives since 2013. The Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides was formed March last year to tackle this issue. But no further action was done after its final report was published, according to Althea Suen Hiu-nam, the former president of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union and a member of this government-appointed student suicide prevention committee. She expressed her dismay on Lam's failure to include the issue in her first policy address. "It's absurd to ignore the issue," Suen said, "a disrespect to the lives of the youth.” Annie Cheung Yim-sheun, spokesperson of the Hong Kong Parents United, felt Lam had neglected a major issue given the increasing number of student suicides in Hong Kong. Cheung attributed Lam's avoidance to the sensitiveness of the sudden death of Peter Poon Hong-yang, …

Health & Environment

The Online Hotbed for Illegal Drugs

Blue pills - the story ends, you wake up in your bed, believing whatever you want to believe. Red pills - you stay in Wonderland, knowing how deep the rabbit hole goes. Sixteen-year-old Amy chose a set of pills from Yanhee Hospital which promised “a safe and effective hallucination”. Convinced by the photos and videos posted by an online shop on Instagram, she paid $300 to buy this medication. “On the first day, I felt dizzy after taking the medicine. My heart was pounding very fast and I was always thirsty. I couldn’t fall asleep no matter how sleepy I was. The next day, I felt so weak as if I was floating. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like dying,” Amy said. “I asked the shop owner why I was suffering through WhatsApp. The medicine had no disclaimer on its possible effects. The owner said everyone might react differently, and that I should quit if I was sick,” she added. Social media has become a hotbed for illegal drug trade. By law, substances used for medical purposes must  be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before sale. But this is often not the case for medicine sold online. Between 2014 and 2016, there were  23 convictions linked to illegal drug sales on social media, according to the Drug Office. Common drugs offered on social media include those that promise to improve one’s appearance, such as breast enhancement or make you grow taller. They come under names such as Cosmoslim, Slim Perfect Legs and Yanhee. Input the keywords on Instagram and you get hundreds of posts of pills. Online drug sellers often claim there is no medication in their products and that they are approved by the foreign agencies. For example, an online post …

Health & Environment

Plastic free for marine creatures

  • 2017-04-22

The first thing Lin Guan Yi does in everyday morning is to open Facebook page and check orders for glass straws, yet she doesn't sell them for money. Instead, she sells glass straws for the turtles. Founded in 2016, 4theturtles aims for promoting glass straws to replace plastic straws. Lin, a financial manager, works part-timely for 4theturtles. This Taiwan-based environmentally friendly organization is encouraged by a popular YouTube video in which a turtle’s respiratory tract is inserted by a plastic straw. Plastic straws and stirrers, along with other plastic products, are listed as top ten categories of coastal floating litter, according to a report published by World Wide Fund (WWF) Hong Kong. Marine litter has become a hit topic in recent years. In Hong Kong, there’re at least more than ten non-profit organizations which have delivered this issue. Among them WWF Hong Kong plays a leading role. Started from 2014 by WWF Hong Kong, Costal Watch is a project providing a long-term resolution for marine litter. It focuses on analysing the importance of solving the marine litter problem and raising people’s awareness of being green in order to reduce litter at source. In “Costal Watch – Turning Tide Against Marine Litter”, its annual research report, WWF Hong Kong pointed out that plastic debris is a huge threat to marine ecosystems. The Coastal Watch team did surveys in cooperation with local fishing communities. They found that plastic debris makes up most of the marine litter found along Hong Kong shorelines. “The plastic debris could cause two problems. One is that marine creatures will be entangled by it. Another is that fish consumed plastic, which directly affects the health of the fish and the whole food chain, meaning that human health will be affected,” said Yeung Chung-wing, Project Manager of Coastal Watch. …

Health & Environment

Teenage binge drinking on the rise

  • 2016-12-02

Local research shows more teenagers, as young as eight years old, are drinking alcohol by Isabella Lo and Tiffany Lui Ammy Cheng Pui-lam, currently a university student in Hong Kong, was 12 years old the first time she got drunk. She was celebrating her primary school graduation at a friend’s home. Later she developed a drinking habit. She would go drinking two to three times a week. “My parents scolded me when they smelled alcohol on me at night, but who is not rebellious at that age?”, Ammy said with hoarse voice, which she believed is the result of frequent drinking. In some films, TV shows and advertisements, drinking is often portrayed as a thrilling social activity that cool people would do in glamorous situations. This kind of depiction has affected young people’s perception. “Drinking is a symbol of growing up, and we are enthusiastic to try,” said 20-year-old Ammy. In a report published by the Hong Kong Academy of Nursing, the earliest age at which local kids start drinking alcohol beverages is eight years old. At the meantime, one in 16 teenagers aged 18 to 24 are reported of alcohol abuse, according to the report. Shiu Ka-fai, legislator from the Liberal Party, said a liquor license is required for restaurants and bars to sell alcohol beverages. “If they sell alcohol to the underage, their license will be suspended. I think they are quite careful on this,” he said. He thinks it is inevitable that teenagers are mistakened as adults sometimes. “But I also see some responsible retailers that would question those who appear to be underage and demand to see their identity card,” said Mr Shiu, who is also a member of the Wholesale and Retail Task Force in the legislature. In Hong Kong, alcohol is believed to have …

Health & Environment

Sugary drinks tax: will it cut obesity?

  • 2016-11-30

Can the WHO’s idea of a tax on sugary drinks work in Hong Kong? by Tracy Zhang A group of primary school students were sitting around a table at McDonald’s in Kowloon City Plaza, enjoying their meal with sips of cola. “I drink cola every meal because I love it so much,” said a plump 12-year-old boy. In Hong Kong, almost all fast food restaurants provide cola and lemonade as their main beverages. Convenient stores and vending machines also display a variety of sugary drinks. The World Health Organization(WHO) released a report on October 11, stating that taxing sugary drinks can efficiently lower the consumption and reduce the rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Fiscal policies that raise the retail price of sugary drinks by 20 per cent or more would bring about proportional reductions in consumption of such products, according to the report titled “Fiscal policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases”. Just days before, Hong Kong government was urged to implement WHO’s call to tax all sugary drinks in order to curb the rising rate of obesity. A survey from the Department of Health shows more than 46 per cent of people in Hong Kong are in the class of overweight or obese, with one in four primary school children being overweight. The rate is still climbing. According to WHO global estimates, 39 per cent of adults worldwide are overweight and the figure has more than doubled between 1980 to 2014. WHO suggests sugar-sweetened beverages are largely to blame for people getting overweight and catching diseases. The tax policies could be an effective device to tackle the problem. According to WHO global estimates, 39 per cent adults worldwide are overweight and the figure more than doubled from 1980 to 2014. “Overseas and local medical …

Health & Environment

Prevention of food allergies - turn foes to friends early on

  • 2016-11-12

A new remedy for food allergies by Crystal Tai When Kelly Tang Tsz-yu was just two years old, she took a spoonful of shrimp and shortly after that, her skin was covered with an itchy rash. Her mother Iris Tai Lok-man was terrified when she began to have breathing difficulties. Since then, her mother always makes sure that Kelly stays away from seafood, peanuts and other common allergens. Like many parents, she holds on to the belief that her child will be fine as long as she stops eating food that triggers an allergic reaction. But new findings show that adding peanuts and eggs to babies’ diets – rather than keeping them away, can cut the rates of allergies. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month, found that early introduction of allergenic food to infants, can reduce risk. The journal shows evidence that feeding peanuts to babies aged between 4 and 11 months,  can lower their chance of developing a peanut allergy. Further studies suggest that early introduction of other common allergens like eggs and fish,  was linked to fewer amount of allergies later on. The new approach to treating food allergies is in contrast with the research released around a decade ago.  At the time, the American Academy of Pediatrics asked kids to stay away from allergens until they were much older. Researchers concluded that there was a “moderate” certainty that putting food allergies in babies’ diets prevents the allergy from developing. Ms June Chan King Chi, Senior Dietitian at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital said that early introduction of allergens to children has been a heated topic in the UK and the US recently. She said between 2008 to 2015, 1,300 three-month old infants were regularly fed small portions of milk, …

Health & Environment

Healing with rhythm and melody

Music therapy helps children with autism by Daisy Lee In a room filled with playful and catchy melodies, Sam Lawrence sits beside an electric piano, moving along the rhythm played by his music therapist. There are no words but his body movements express the joy he finds. Sam has a chromosome abnormality, which has ose symptoms resembling those of autism spectrum disorder. His journey with music therapy began when his therapist discovered that he reacted positively with music.Once the therapist discovered that he reacted positively to music, his journey with music therapy started. Rona Grecia has been Sam’s nursemaid for almost 11 years. After accompanying him in the music therapy sessions for three years, she has seen observed that how music therapy has given Sam a chance to express himself.   Sam has a chromosome abnormality. His Ose symptoms resemble those of autism spectrum disorders. “He used to react slowly to (his) therapist’s music or instructions, but now I am impressed to see his improvement in interactions. He can even express what instruments and music he likes. Sam is calm and happy when he is with music,” she said. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is effective in improving their interpersonal and communication skills. Jockey Club Sarah Roe School offers in-house music therapy to children with special needs. “Children with autism always live in their own world. Music serves like a cue, which can bring their attention back into reality and make them feel connected to the real world,” said Joanne Wu, a music therapist at JCSRS. “For example, we always play ‘Hello Song’ when a session starts, which serves as a signal and converge (grabs) the children’s attention,” she said. Ms Wu added that music is a kind of …

Health & Environment

Plant-based Therapy helps students bloom

  • 2016-07-22

Horticultural Therapy can help with student suicides issue in Hong Kong By Susan Gao In a garden filled with colorful flowers and cheerful sounds of chirping birds, six students with dementia and depression are sitting on wheelchairs in front of a round table, touching their newly grown plants while listening to the therapist’s instruction. “Only in this one-hour therapy can I forget all the unhappy things,” said Wong Pui Shan, who has attended six therapy lessons. This is Horticultural Therapy, a new way of therapeutic treatment defined by American therapists as the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist. “It is more than just gardening. The visual aesthetics of plants can elicit feelings of inner peace and generate positive emotions,” said Tam Sau-han, the General Affair Director of Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture. “The therapy has become increasingly popular in Hong Kong due to the high social pressure.” Up to 23 students have committed suicides in Hong Kong since the start of academic year in September 2015, much more than the past years, according to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention. The registered horticultural therapist suggested that students nowadays face considerable stress and are more fragile. “The therapy can help remedy their mental health problems and alleviate their stress and depression,” Ms Tam said. Dr. Tong Wang-chi, an Honorary Consultant of Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture, said researchers have found the therapy effective in treating developmental disabilities and mental illnesses such as depression and stress-related diseases. “People commit suicides mainly because of the feeling of worthiness”, said Dr. Tong, who is also a counseling psychologist of Adventist Hospital. “Plants is a favorable medium of treatment, which can help people regain self-esteem.” Ms Tam said the fact …