10 September 2009
National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign (NHLC) 2009
Know Your BMI, Know Your Risk
Singapore has made significant achievements in improving the health status of its people. Compared to National Health Survey (NHS) findings in 1998, NHS 2004 findings showed significant improvements in rates of major non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and high blood cholesterol. Over the same time period, regular exercise also increased among Singaporeans.
Obesity: Prevalence and Health Threats
2 Despite these advances, obesity and overweight prevalence continue to trend upward. According to NHS statistics, the prevalence of obesity among adults between 18 and 69 years increased steadily from 5.1% in 1992 to 6.0% in 1998, and to 6.9% in 2004. The prevalence of overweight has also crept upwards: 21.1% in 1992, to 24.4% in 1998, and to 25.6 % in 2004.
3 This mirrors the increasing global trend in obesity. In developed countries such as Australia, United States and United Kingdom, obesity rates have reached epidemic levels while rapid economic development and the shift from an active, agricultural lifestyle to a sedentary, urban lifestyle have caused a sharp rise in obesity rates among Asian countries* (* WHO data).
4 Obesity is a priority public health challenge, as it is a major risk factor for diseases of high burden. These include diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers. In the absence of effective preventive measures, obesity will reach a crisis level.
5 In light of the growing health challenges of obesity and its associated diseases in Singapore, the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign (NHLC) 2009 will focus on the dangers of obesity. Organised by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the campaign aims to educate members of the public about the causes and consequences of obesity, and empower Singapore residents to manage their weight.
NHLC 2009: Know Your BMI, Know Your Risk
6 To tackle this growing problem, it is important to understand the energy balance equation and how the Body Mass Index (more commonly referred to as BMI) is used to help the population manage their obesity-related health risks.
7 The energy balance equation is the balance between energy taken in by food and drink, and energy expended by physical activity. If energy taken in exceeds energy expended, weight gain will result.
8 BMI (defined as the individual s bodyweight in kilogrammes divided by the square of his/her height in metres) is a measurement tool used to classify a range of health risk categories, such as low risk , moderate risk and high risk . These health risk categories are based on recommended Singapore BMI cut-off points (listed in the table below) and help to determine public health and clinical actions.
BMI (kg/m2) for Adults
Health Risk Classification
27.5 and above
Low Risk (healthy range)
Risk of nutritional deficiency diseases and osteoporosis
The 2004 NHS showed that 36.7% of Singaporeans were at moderate risk (BMI 23.0 27.4) and 16.0% were at high risk (BMI 27.5 or more).
9 The Campaign tagline Know Your BMI, Know Your Risk highlights that the ideal healthy range for BMI is 18.5-22.9. A BMI of 23-27.4 puts one at moderate risk of developing diabetes (Type 2) and cardiovascular diseases while a BMI of 27.5 and above puts one at high risk of developing these conditions. The Campaign emphasises the importance of taking preventive steps through engaging in regular exercise and eating healthily to reduce one s health risk.
Targeting the population in obesity prevention efforts
10 The NHLC 2009 focus on obesity and BMI is targeted at the general population aged 18 years old and above, as well as parents and caregivers of children.
a) Engaging the adults
11 Almost 60% of the population over the age of 15 years participate in the workforce in some way1. Workplace engagement is an important outreach avenue in obesity education for the adult segment. Education and outreach efforts will focus on what is BMI, how to calculate one s BMI, understanding the risk categories and how to incorporate healthy practices into daily lifestyles and routines to manage one s BMI. It will also educate on the health consequences of being overweight and obese.
12 As a lead-up to the NHLC 2009 launch event on 6 November 2009, HPB introduced the Lose to Win Challenge , a 12-week weight loss and weight management programme which commenced in early August for employees of workplaces. This challenge aims to inspire and motivate groups of employees to lose weight the healthy way, and partner employers to cultivate healthy lifestyle practices among their employees.
13 Each company team, comprising up to five employees whose BMI is > 25, will undergo a structured programme comprising fitness assessments, exercise boot camps, and nutrition education. Fitness assessments are conducted at the beginning, midway point, and at the end of the 12-week Challenge in order to measure and track participants fitness levels and progress. Certified fitness trainers conduct the one and a half hour boot camp (physical activity component) sessions twice weekly and closely monitor all participants as they go through the circuit training. The nutrition component of the Challenge sees participants at three workshops cum interactive sessions learn about eating right; achieving safe and sustainable weight loss through developing healthy eating habits; as well as shopping for, and purchasing healthier choices at the supermarket through reading food labels and selecting products that carry the Healthier Choice Symbol. More information about the Lose to Win Challenge is available in Info Sheet Annex A.
b) Engaging parents and caregivers
14 Healthy dietary habits and an active lifestyle are key tenets of obesity prevention. These are best inculcated from young as that is a stage where most habits, including health-related ones, are shaped. As the young grow and enter into adulthood, they will also be more likely to carry on leading such healthy lifestyles.
15 While this year s NHLC primarily targets the general adult population, it will also engage parents of young children as part of HPB s ongoing efforts to move obesity prevention efforts further upstream. Parents exert a significant influence over their children and it is therefore important to empower them with the necessary knowledge and skills to nurture the health and wellbeing of the young.
16 As for the adult population, NHLC 2009 provides the platform for the introduction of a slew of initiatives which aim to raise parental and caregivers awareness of the causes, consequences and prevention of childhood obesity as well as equip them with the knowledge and skills to nurture healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle in their children. More information about such initiatives is available in Info Sheet Annex B.
Launch of National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign (NHLC) 2009
17 NHLC 2009 will be launched by Minister for Health, Mr Khaw Boon Wan on 6 November 2009, at Singapore Expo (Hall 6B). The winners of the Lose to Win Challenge will be announced and awarded at this event. An interactive exhibition for the public will be held the following day, on 7 November 2009, at the same Singapore Expo venue. More details about the NHLC launch and subsequent public exhibition will be announced nearer to the date.
Integrated Marketing Campaign and Reality TV Show
18 The NHLC 2009 Marketing Campaign will adopt an integrated approach that taps into relevant media touch points to reach out to Singaporeans to educate them about BMI and obesity. Print, broadcast and online advertisement creatives, together with a dedicated NHLC website (http://www.knowyourbmi.sg ), and other resources (e.g., recipe cards, calendars, tissue packs, etc) will all aim to get Singapore residents to know about, care for and fight obesity.
19 For the first time in NHLC history since its inception in 1992, HPB has commissioned MediaCorp to produce a reality TV show, also entitled Lose to Win . The four episode TV programme follows selected participants of the Lose to Win Challenge on their personal and their corporate team journeys to lose weight and win big for their health. The Lose to Win reality TV show will be broadcast in English over Channel 5, and in Mandarin over Channel 8, commencing in late October (a few weeks prior to the launch of NHLC 2009 on November 6). More information on the TV show is available in Info Sheet Annex C.
20 Various partners from the private and public sectors have come on board in support of NHLC 2009. The Platinum Sponsors are Nestl Singapore (Pte) Ltd, Fraser and Neave, Limited and Subway Restaurants. Other sponsors include Lam Soon Singapore Pte Ltd (Gold Sponsor), NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative Ltd (Gold Sponsor), Allswell Trading Pte Ltd (Silver Sponsor), NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd (Silver Sponsor) and TeamFitnessGuru.com (Fitness Partner). Supporting organisations for NHLC 2009 are National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
HPB s ongoing obesity prevention and control efforts and strategies
21 Obesity is a complex problem requiring multiple prevention and control interventions over a long period of time. Further information on ongoing programmes, initiatives and activities to address obesity is available in Info Sheet Annex D.
Singapore in Figures, Singapore Dept of Statistics,2007