HPB steps up health campaign to engage more S'poreans

The war on diabetes received a boost yesterday with the launch of the second season of the National Steps Challenge.

An initiative by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), it aims to get 250,000 Singaporeans to be more physically active by rewarding participants with points based on the number of steps they take.

The points can be used to redeem rewards.

Participants simply have to download the Healthy 365 app and use it with a step tracker.

"There's a misconception that living a healthy life is a very drastic change that you have to make to your entire lifestyle, (but) the message is that every little gradual step helps," said Mr Zee Yoong Kang, HPB's chief executive officer.

The first season of the challenge, which started in November last year and ended in May, had 156,000 participants.

On average, participants clocked about 1,500 more steps a day than adults in a controlled group study conducted by HPB.

In addition, one in three participants recorded a high step count of 10,000 or more steps per day.

Laboratory officer Jacquelyn Tay joined the challenge on a whim but emerged happier with both a healthier lifestyle and travel vouchers worth $10,000 after winning in the Destination Draw.

"I have become more active and have changed my diet - I've cut down on fried food and fast food, and I eat brown rice instead of white rice," said the 29-year-old, who also learns kick-boxing.

Emphasising the need to live a healthy lifestyle, especially in the context of the "war on diabetes", Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat, who attended the launch, encouraged people to eat heathily, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.

"These habits have to start from young so they become life long," he said. "From children all the way to seniors - our aim is to encourage (people from) different age groups to stay healthy."

The war on diabetes was declared in April by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, to tackle the problems it poses to the more than 400,000 diabetics here, as well as the yearly $1 billion drain it places on the country's healthcare system.

A task force to crowdsource for reasons why people do not live healthily was announced by Mr Gan last month. According to the National Health Survey 2010, 39 per cent of adults are not getting sufficient physical activity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'HPB steps up health campaign to engage more S'poreans'. Print Edition | Subscribe