OBJECTIVES: To examine dietary intake and practices of the adult Hong Kong Chinese population to provide a basis for future public health recommendations with regard to prevention of certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis. PARTICIPANTS: Age and sex stratified random sample of the Hong Kong Chinese population aged 25 to 74 years (500 men, 510 women). METHOD: A food frequency method over a one week period was used for nutrient quantification, and a separate questionnaire was used for assessment of dietary habits. Information was obtained by interview. RESULTS: Men had higher intakes of energy and higher nutrient density of vitamin D, monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol, but lower nutrient density of protein, many vitamins, calcium, iron, copper, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. There was an age related decrease in energy intake and other nutrients except for vitamin C, sodium, potassium, and percentage of total calorie from carbohydrate, which all increased with age. Approximately 50% of the population had a cholesterol intake of < or = 300 mg; 60% had a fat intake < or = 30% of total energy; and 85% had a percentage of energy from saturated fats < or = 10%; criteria considered desirable for cardiovascular health. Seventy eight per cent of the population had sodium intake values in the range shown to be associated with the age related rise in blood pressure with age. Mean calcium intake was lower than the FAO/WHO recommendations. The awareness of the value of wholemeal bread and polyunsaturated fat spreads was lower in this population compared with that in Australia. There was a marked difference in types of cooking oil compared with Singaporeans, the latter using more coconut/palm/mixed vegetable oils. CONCLUSION: Although the current intake pattern for cardiovascular health for fat, saturated fatty acid, and cholesterol fall within the recommended range for over 50% of the population, follow up surveys to monitor the pattern would be needed. Decreasing salt consumption, increasing calcium intake, and increasing the awareness of the health value of fibre may all be beneficial in the context of chronic disease prevention.
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