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Bad lifestyles sicken Guangzhou's elderly
By Liang Qiwen (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-12 06:31

GUANGZHOU: A survey in Guangzhou suggests that more than 90 per cent of older people in the city are not healthy.

Poor diet, smoking, drinking alcohol and eating spicy food have been blamed for the situation.

The results were collected by a "bio-bank," an organization collecting health statistics that was established in 2003.

Its aim is to provide information to improve the lives of people aged 50 and above.

In the first phase of its research the "bio-bank" found most people in the age group did not meet its definition of healthy.

It considers people healthy when they have no obvious deformity, and have no nervous system problems, such as paralysis and senile dementia.

Healthy people should also be able to hear without hearing aids, have no heart and pulmonary diseases, and meet other criteria.

With the aid of two medical organizations from Hong Kong and Britain, and two local government departments, the "bio-bank" has been set up in Guangzhou No 12 Hospital. The first research phase looked at 10,413 elderly people in this provincial capital city by sending out questionnaires and taking blood samples.

People involved in the survey are between 50 and 79 years old.

"Only 6.3 per cent of them are healthy or roughly healthy," said Jiang Chaoqiang, director of Guangzhou No 12 Hospital.

The questionnaires asked the surveyed people questions about their lifestyles, occupations, living conditions and medical records.

The investigators marked down people's diets, and offered them free physical examinations. This included a memory test.

Hong Kong University, Britain's Birmingham University, the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Science and Technology, and the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Health are involved in this project.

The initial results of the research showed high blood pressure, obesity, heart and pulmonary diseases, and senile dementia, are common diseases among old people in the city.

Over 47 per cent of those checked have high blood pressure. The ratio is the highest among all diseases.

Wang Zhenqiu, 66, a retired government official, said few people thought smoking was bad for health when they were young. Wang has smoked every day since he was in his 20s.

As he got older, his busy social activities meant he smoked more and drank more alcohol.

He said it was too late for him to stop smoking after he retired and he has since developed high blood pressure.

"I have to take drugs every day to control the situation," said Wang.

Jiang said the research would not stop. In five years time, they would have gathered information about more than 50,000 older people.

"Data from the 10,413 people is expected to be followed up over 10 years. We will update the information all the time," Jiang told China Daily.

(China Daily 05/12/2005 page3)

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