Life expectancy in most developed countries is increasing. And while people living longer lives is an undeniably positive development, a corresponding drop in birth rates means that, at a certain point, the task of caring for older people could overwhelm healthcare systems and economies. Therefore, it is essential that, as populations age, they maintain good health through exercise and proper nutrition.
Seeing the growing importance of promoting healthy and active lifestyles among aging societies in Asia Pacific and beyond, AmCham Taiwan’s Retail Committee has organized the annual Citizen’s Health Forum since 2020. The purpose of this event has been to bring together industry players, healthcare professionals and some of the best minds in academia to provide science-backed information in the areas of health and nutrition.
For the 2022 edition, the Committee invited experts from Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and Canada to share the latest research on healthy nutrition, including the use of dietary supplements to ensure health. Topics to be covered include amino acids for sports nutrition and healthy aging, as well as cholesterol issues.
This year’s forum will also feature for the first time the voices of Taiwanese government health authorities, who will share insights on the central issue of public health policy. The organizers invited Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director General Chia Shu-li and Sports Administration Deputy Director General Lin Che-hung to participate in a discussion moderated by the President of the International Conference on Health Evaluation and Promotion and professor of medicine at the National University. Taiwan University Dr. Huang Kuo-chin.
Ceasar Chen, co-chair of the Retail Committee and general manager of Herbalife Nutrition Taiwan, one of the sponsors of the event, says that this year’s three main themes – health policy, health promotion and nutrition – are complementary.
“We want to emphasize that health promotion requires government policies to guide people on how to lead a better life by adopting healthy and active lifestyles,” Chen says. “We are pleased to see how the forum has evolved over the last three years to now become a platform for academia, industry and government to connect and learn from each other. The more constructive dialogue we can facilitate, the better understanding we can achieve.”
Taiwan, like several of its neighbors, is simultaneously experiencing fewer births and greater longevity. Most predict that by 2025 it will become a super-aging society, meaning more than 20% of its population will be 65 or older. Therefore, the government considers it imperative to establish policies that promote healthy aging.
“Proper nutrition is one of the key factors determining whether older people become prematurely frail or disabled,” says Health Promotion Administration (HPA) deputy director-general Chia Shu-li. “To ensure Taiwan’s elderly population receives the right type of nutrition, the HPA has issued guidance on good dietary choices for silver-haired citizens. This information helps older people and those who care for them to prepare appropriate meals, enabling them to ‘eat enough, eat well and eat smart’”.
In addition, the Taiwan Sports Administration (SA) continuously launches campaigns to promote healthy and active lifestyles at every stage of life. Lin Che-hung says SA programs have helped raise the portion of the population that exercises or participates in sports from around 20% in 2006 to nearly 34% last year. He notes that Taiwan is now home to 57 public sports and recreation centers, with the SA planning to build 21 more in the coming years.
While physical activity has become more popular in Taiwan in recent years, a study found that the waist size of Taiwanese adults has also increased, indicating that many of them are overweight. Among other factors, the rise of food delivery services in Taiwan since the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the availability of unhealthy foods, making it more convenient to have a poor diet.
“We always encourage people to avoid high-calorie foods in favor of nutrient-dense ones,” Chen says. “These nutrients are also essential for active people to develop their bodies and stay in good shape.” Emphasizing the need for people of all ages to eat well, she adds that “nutrition is a critical component of this entire ecosystem. Everyone needs to eat nutritious food every day to protect themselves from disease.” Chen and his fellow committee members therefore see the Citizens’ Health Forum as yet another tool to stress the importance of nutrition in maintaining a healthy body.