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Wed, Jan 10, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Health department warns of dangers from high-fat diets

By Liu Shao-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

With traditional Chinese New Year feasting just around the corner, the Department of Health yesterday appealed to the general public, especially those over the age of 45, to avoid ingesting too much fatty food.

According to statistics for the period between 1992 and 1997 collated by the department, assimilated fat constituted 34.4 percent of total ingested calories per person in Taiwan. That was higher than the department's recommended standard of 30 percent, indicating that Taiwanese ingest too much fat from food.

Animal fat made up the majority of the ingested fat, 63 percent among men and 55 percent among women. Health department officials said alterations to diet and reduction in consumption of oils are the primary means of preventing chronic diseases caused by fat.

"Eat at least 0.5kg of vegetables every day," health officials said, stressing that a balanced diet and moderate exercise are the only ways to keep healthy.

The health department has designated 2001 as the "Year of Health Promotion," and is starting the year with a health awareness campaign targeting the middle-aged and the elderly.

Heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension and strokes are among the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan, and many of them are caused or exacerbated by a diet high in fat.

The prevalence of hypertension among people over the age of 45 is 43 percent, diabetes 11 percent and high cholesterol 23 percent, according to the department.

"In most developed countries, the prevalence of these kinds of diseases is high," said Hsiao Shu-chen (蕭淑珍), the health department official responsible for the health of the middle-aged and the elderly.

In addition, according to the latest statistics, around 600,000 people in Taiwan are diabetic. The annual cost of treating diabetes is approximately NT$30 billion, more than 10 percent of total health spending.

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