20 July 2023
A balanced diet contributes to good health. It shall include a variety of foods providing appropriate calorie and nutrients. Members of the public are advised to follow the principles of the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid and include the five basic food groups (i.e. grains; fruit; vegetables, meat along with fish, eggs and legumes; milk and milk products) and be active in decreasing fat, salt and sugar intake. Micronutrients, e.g. iodine, are also essential in healthy diet.
Imbalanced diet may lead to obesity
or specific nutrient deficiency. These in turn may increase the risk of a variety of health problems, such as heart diseases
, cerebrovascular disease
, diabetes mellitus
and some cancers. Inadequate dietary iodine intake gives rise to iodine deficiency which may result in goitre and hypothyroidism as well as a spectrum of iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs) including impaired mental functioning.
Situation in Hong Kong
Population Health Survey 2020-22 revealed that 97.9% (97.8% for females and 98.2% for males) of persons aged 15 or above reported consuming an average of less than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. The survey also revealed that 25.4%, 51.6% and 28.9% of persons aged 15 or above ate preserved vegetables, processed meat and snacks with high salt content, respectively, on average at least once a week. Based on the World Health Organization’s epidemiological criteria for assessing iodine nutrition (median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) 100-199 μg/L is classified as adequate iodine intake), iodine intake was insufficient with mild iodine deficiency status for persons aged 35 or above (median UIC of persons aged 35 to 54 and 55 to 84 was 92.7 μg/L and 79.8 μg/L respectively), while persons aged 15 to 34 (median UIC was 107.5 μg/L) was classified with adequate iodine intake.
Adequate amounts of fruit and vegetable intake is an essential component of healthy eating. WHO recommends a daily intake of at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables (about 5 servings of fruit and vegetables) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers. To prevent IDDs, one can consume iodine-rich foods and use iodised salt instead of ordinary table salt, while keeping total salt intake below 5 g (1 teaspoon) per day to lower the risk of raised blood pressure.
There is sufficient evidence in humans that consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. Members of the public are urged to avoid processed meat and associated products.
To learn more about healthy diet and the Food Pyramid, please visit the "Change for Health
" website. Recommendations on daily energy consumption and information on composition & nutrients in commonly consumed food could be found at Nutrient Information Inquiry of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department