45 per cent of people gain 1.7 kg during Chinese New Year: survey

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Nearly 45 per cent of people gain an average of 1.7 kilograms during the Chinese New Year holidays, according to the Health Promotion Administration (HPA).

The HPA said that according to a 2012 survey, most people eat 39 per cent more food during Chinese New Year than they do on regular days.

According to the HPA, 50 per cent of survey respondents claimed that they have cookies, candy and snacks every day during the holidays, while 19 per cent of respondents said they drink sugary drinks every day.

In addition, 43 per cent of respondents said that they exercise less during holidays than on regular days, the HPA added.

Yunlin County's Public Health Bureau head Wu Chao-chun suggests that each person should consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily. However, some snacks that people like to eat during holidays tend to contain a great amount of fat, sugar, and sodium.

Wu said that one package of sweet potato chips contains about 600 calories, which is roughly the amount of calories a person should consume for lunch. Also, the calories of 10 peanut brittle snacks or three pineapple cakes equal one pork chop lunch box.

According to Wu, if people do not pay attention to these "hidden" calories in snacks, it is very easy to gain weight during the Chinese New Year holidays.

People with chronic diseases should avoid having too many snacks, so as not to affect their blood sugar and blood pressure, Wu said.

Wu added that there are ways to help people consume fewer calories, and the first step is to choose snacks low in calories.

According to Wu, people can replace unhealthy snacks with fresh fruit and choose non-flavored nuts over artificially flavored ones in order to reduce the amount of calories consumed.

The Taichung City Health Bureau also suggested that people can cut over 200 calories per serving by steaming and broiling instead of frying traditional foods.

The bureau said that people who have high blood pressure or kidney disease should avoid eating high-sodium food like string cheese, codfish strips or a large amount of stock.

According to the bureau, as long as patients can control the amount of processed food they eat and get a moderate amount of exercise they can still enjoy delicious food and maintain a healthy lifestyle during Chinese New Year.