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1.  Smoking, quitting and mortality in an elderly cohort of 56 000 Hong Kong Chinese 
Tobacco Control  2007;16(3):182-189.
Although the harms of smoking are well established, it is unclear how they extend into old age in the Chinese.
To examine the relationship of smoking with all‐cause and major cause‐specific mortality in elderly Chinese men and women, respectively, in Hong Kong.
Mortality by smoking status was examined in a prospective cohort study of 56 167 (18 749 men, 37 416 women) Chinese aged ⩾65 years enrolled from 1998 to 2000 at all the 18 elderly health centres of the Hong Kong Government Department of Health.
After a mean follow‐up of 4.1 years, 1848 male and 2035 female deaths occured among 54 214 subjects (96.5% successful follow‐up). At baseline, more men than women were current smokers (20.3% vs 4.0%) and former smokers (40.8% vs 7.9%). The adjusted RRs (95% CI) for all‐cause mortality in former and current smokers, compared with never smokers, were 1.39 (1.23 to 1.56) and 1.75 (1.53 to 2.00) in men and 1.43 (1.25 to 1.64) and 1.38 (1.14 to 1.68) in women, respectively. For current smokers, the RRs (95% CI) for all‐cause mortality were 1.59 (1.39 to 1.82), 1.72 (1.48 to 2.00) and 1.84 (1.43 to 2.35) for daily consumption of 1–9, 10–20 and >21 cigarettes, respectively (p for trend <0.001). RRs (95% CI) were 1.49 (1.30 to 1.72) and 2.20 (1.88 to 2.57) in former and current smokers for all deaths from cancer, and 1.24 (1.04 to 1.47) and 1.57 (1.28 to 1.94) for all cardiovascular deaths, respectively. Quitters had significantly lower risks of death than current smokers from all causes, lung cancer, all cancers, stroke and all cardiovascular diseases.
In old age, smoking continues to be a major cause of death, and quitting is beneficial. Smoking cessation is urgently needed in rapidly ageing populations in the East.
PMCID: PMC2598507  PMID: 17565138
2.  Use of Internet Viral Marketing to Promote Smoke-Free Lifestyles among Chinese Adolescents 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99082.
Youth smoking is a global public health concern. Health educators are increasingly using Internet-based technologies, but the effectiveness of Internet viral marketing in promoting health remains uncertain. This prospective pilot study assessed the efficacy of an online game-based viral marketing campaign in promoting a smoke-free attitude among Chinese adolescents.
One hundred and twenty-one Hong Kong Chinese adolescents aged 10 to 24 were invited to participate in an online multiple-choice quiz game competition designed to deliver tobacco-related health information. Participants were encouraged to refer others to join. A zero-inflated negative binomial model was used to explore the factors contributing to the referral process. Latent transition analysis utilising a pre- and post-game survey was used to detect attitudinal changes toward smoking.
The number of participants increased almost eightfold from 121 to 928 (34.6% current or ex-smokers) during the 22-day campaign. Participants exhibited significant attitudinal change, with 73% holding negative attitudes toward smoking after the campaign compared to 57% before it. The transition probabilities from positive to negative and neutral to negative attitudes were 0.52 and 0.48, respectively. It was also found that attempting every 20 quiz questions was associated with lower perceived smoking decision in future (OR  = 0.95, p-value <0.01).
Our online game-based viral marketing programme was effective in reaching a large number of smoking and non-smoking participants and changing their attitudes toward smoking. It constitutes a promising practical and cost-effective model for engaging young smokers and promulgating smoking-related health information among Chinese adolescents.
PMCID: PMC4049615  PMID: 24911010
4.  A comparison of risk factors for mortality from heart failure in Asian and non-Asian populations: An overview of individual participant data from 32 prospective cohorts from the Asia-Pacific Region 
Most of what is known regarding the epidemiology of mortality from heart failure (HF) comes from studies within Western populations with few data available from the Asia-Pacific region where the burden of heart failure is increasing.
Individual level data from 543694 (85% Asian; 36% female) participants from 32 cohorts in the Asia Pacific Cohort Studies Collaboration were included in the analysis. Adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for mortality from HF were estimated separately for Asians and non-Asians for a quintet of cardiovascular risk factors: systolic blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, cigarette smoking and total cholesterol. All analyses were stratified by sex and study.
During 3,793,229 person years of follow-up there were 614 HF deaths (80% Asian). The positive associations between elevated blood pressure, obesity, and cigarette smoking were consistent for Asians and non-Asians. There was evidence to indicate that diabetes was a weaker risk factor for death from HF for Asians compared with non-Asians: HR 1.26 (95% CI: 0.74-2.13) versus 3.04 (95% CI 1.76-5.25) respectively; p for interaction = 0.022. Additional adjustment for covariates did not materially change the overall associations. There was no good evidence to indicate that total cholesterol was a risk factor for HF mortality in either population.
Most traditional cardiovascular risk factors including elevated blood pressure, obesity and cigarette smoking appear to operate similarly to increase the risk of death from HF in Asians and non-Asians populations alike.
PMCID: PMC4037783  PMID: 24884382
Meta-analysis; Heart failure; Epidemiology
5.  Physical Activity and Constipation in Hong Kong Adolescents 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90193.
To examine the association of constipation with exercise, non-exercise physical activity, and sedentary behaviours in Hong Kong adolescents.
In 2006–2007, 42 secondary schools were randomly selected to participate in the Hong Kong Student Obesity Surveillance (HKSOS) project. A total of 33692 Form 1–7 students (44.9% boys; mean age 14.8, SD 1.9 years) completed an anonymous questionnaire on lifestyle behaviours. Constipation was defined as a frequency of evacuation of less than once every two days. Exercise (moderate-to-vigorous levels) and non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) were each considered insufficient when less than 1 hour per day, and sedentary behaviours were considered excessive when over 4 hours per day. Logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for constipation in relation to exercise, NEPA, and sedentary behaviours, adjusting for potential confounders.
Constipation was identified in 15.6% (95% CI 15.2% – 16.0%) of adolescents overall, 14.0% in those with sufficient exercise and 19.6% in those without. Constipation was associated with insufficient exercise (AOR 1.26, 95% CI 1.16 – 1.36), insufficient NEPA 1.21 (1.10 – 1.33) and excessive sedentary behaviours (1.25, 1.17 – 1.34). Compared with having none of the above 3 inactive behaviours, increasing AORs of constipation were observed for having 1 (AOR 1.23), 2 (AOR 1.57) and 3 (AOR 1.88) inactive behaviours (p for trend <0.001).
Constipation was associated with insufficient physical activity and excessive sedentary behaviours among Chinese adolescents with a dose-response relation. If the association is causal, constipation could be prevented by promotion of physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3938666  PMID: 24587274
6.  Adverse Lifestyle Leads to an Annual Excess of 2 Million Deaths in China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89650.
Adverse lifestyle factors have been associated with increased mortality, but data are lacking on their combined effect in developing populations, which we address in the present study.
In a death registry-based, case-control study among Hong Kong Chinese aged 30+y, proxy-reported lifestyle factors 10 y ago were collected for 21,363 cases (81% of all deaths) and 12,048 living controls. Risks associated with poor diet, inactivity, heavy alcohol intake, and smoking for all-cause and cause-specific mortality, adjusting for potential confounders, were determined, and excess deaths for the Chinese population were calculated.
Adjusted odds ratios for all-cause mortality were 1.15 (95% CI 1.09, 1.23), 1.34 (1.27, 1.43), 1.36 (1.21, 1.52), and 1.58 (1.46, 1.70) for poor diet, inactivity, heavy alcohol intake and smoking, respectively. Increasing numbers of adverse lifestyle factors were associated with a dose-dependent increase in adjusted odds ratios of 1.30 (1.20, 1.40), 1.67 (1.54, 1.81), 2.32 (2.08, 2.60), and 3.85 (3.12, 4.75) for 1, 2, 3, and 4 risk factors relative to those with none. The population attributable fraction for all-cause, all-CVD and all-cancer mortality were 26.6%, 15.0%, and 32.1%, resulting in an excess of 2,017,541; 489,884; and 607,517 deaths annually, respectively. Although smoking was associated with the greatest excess loss of life (867,530), heavy drinking (680,466), and physical inactivity (678,317) were similarly important.
Adverse lifestyle factors contribute to one quarter of all deaths in China. Improving lifestyle practices, particularly focussing on moderating alcohol intake and increasing activity, and smoking cessation are critical to reducing the lifestyle-associated health burden.
PMCID: PMC3935915  PMID: 24586936
7.  Television Viewing Time in Hong Kong Adult Population: Associations with Body Mass Index and Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85440.
Obesity is increasing dramatically in the Asia-Pacific region particularly China. The population of Hong Kong was exposed to modernization far earlier than the rest of China, reflecting conditions that are likely to be replicated as other Chinese cities undergo rapid change. This study examined the relationship between television viewing and obesity in a Hong Kong sample. Information about the relationship between a key sedentary behavior, TV viewing, and obesity, and its moderation by demographic characteristics may identify sectors of the population at highest risk for excess weight.
Data were from Hong Kong Family and Health Information Trends Survey (2009–2010), a population-based survey on the public's use of media for health information and family communication by telephone interviews with 3,016 Hong Kong adults (age≥18 years). TV viewing time, body mass index (BMI), physical activity and other lifestyle variables were analyzed.
Viewing time was longer in women, increased with age but decreased with education level and vigorous physical activity (all P<0.01). Longer TV viewing time was significantly associated with higher BMI (Coefficients B = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.11, 0.24) after adjusting for age, gender, employment status, marital status, education level, smoking activity and vigorous physical activity. This association was stronger in women than men (Coefficients B: 0.19 versus 0.15) and strongest in those aged 18 to 34 years (Coefficients B = 0.35). Furthermore, an hour increase in daily TV viewing was associated with 10% greater odds of being obese.
A significant socioeconomic gradient in television viewing time was observed. TV viewing time positively associated with BMI and obesity. The TV viewing – BMI associations were strongest in women and young adults, suggesting vulnerable groups to target for obesity prevention by decreasing TV viewing.
PMCID: PMC3888420  PMID: 24427309
8.  Milk Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Older Chinese: The Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84813.
Dairy products consumption is increasingly common globally. Most of the evidence concerning dairy products comes from observational studies in western populations which are inevitably open to confounding. To triangulate the evidence concerning dairy products, we examined the associations of whole cow's milk consumption with cardiovascular risk factors in a non-Western setting with a different pattern of milk consumption and cardiovascular diseases from Western populations.
We used multivariable censored linear or logistic regression to examine cross-sectionally the adjusted associations of whole cow's milk consumption (none (n = 14892), 1–3/week (n = 2689) and 3+/week (n = 2754)) with cardiovascular risk factors in Chinese (≥50 years) in the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.
Whole cow's milk consumption was negatively associated with systolic blood pressure (3+/week compared to none −2.56 mmHg, 95% confidence interval (CI) −3.63 to −1.49), diastolic blood pressure (−1.32 mmHg, 95% CI −1.87 to −0.77) and triglycerides (−0.06 mmol/L, 95% CI −0.11 to −0.002), but was positively associated with HDL-cholesterol (0.02 mmol/L,95% CI 0.01 to 0.04) and fasting glucose (0.08 mmol/L, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.16) adjusted for age, sex, phase of study, socio-economic position, lifestyle (smoking, alcohol use and physical activity) and adiposity, but had no obvious association with LDL-cholesterol or the presence of diabetes.
Whole cow's milk consumption had heterogeneous associations with cardiovascular risk factors. Higher whole cow's milk consumption was associated with lower levels of specific cardiovascular risk factors which might suggest risk factor specific biological pathways with different relations to blood pressure and lipids than glucose.
PMCID: PMC3885601  PMID: 24416290
9.  Health Information Seeking Partially Mediated the Association between Socioeconomic Status and Self-Rated Health among Hong Kong Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82720.
Poor self-rated health (SRH) is socially patterned with health communication inequalities, arguably, serving as one mechanisms. This study investigated the effects of health information seeking on SRH, and its mediation effects on disparities in SRH.
We conducted probability-based telephone surveys administered over telephone in 2009, 2010/11 and 2012 to monitor health information use among 4553 Chinese adults in Hong Kong. Frequency of information seeking from television, radio, newspapers/magazines and Internet was dichotomised as <1 time/month and ≥1 time/month. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for poor SRH were calculated for health information seeking from different sources and socioeconomic status (education and income). Mediation effects of health information seeking on the association between SES and poor SRH was estimated.
Poor SRH was associated with lower socioeconomic status (P for trend <0.001), and less than monthly health information seeking from newspapers/magazines (aOR = 1.23, 95% CI 1.07–1.42) and Internet (aOR = 1.13, 95% CI 0.98–1.31). Increasing combined frequency of health information seeking from newspapers/magazines and Internet was linearly associated with better SRH (P for trend <0.01). Health information seeking from these two sources contributed 9.2% and 7.9% of the total mediation effects of education and household income on poor SRH, respectively.
Poor SRH was associated with lower socioeconomic status, and infrequent health information seeking from newspapers/magazines and Internet among Hong Kong Chinese. Disparities in SRH may be partially mediated by health information seeking from newspapers/magazines and Internet.
PMCID: PMC3862642  PMID: 24349347
10.  Effectiveness of a parental training programme in enhancing the parent–child relationship and reducing harsh parenting practices and parental stress in preparing children for their transition to primary school: a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1079.
Entering primary school is an important childhood milestone, marking the beginning of a child’s formal education. Yet the change creates a time of vulnerability for the child, the parents and the parent–child relationship. Failure to adjust to the transition may place the family in a psychologically devastating position. The aims of this study were to test the effectiveness of a parental training programme in enhancing the parent–child relationship and decreasing parental stress by reducing harsh parenting in preparing children for the transition to primary school.
A randomised controlled trial incorporating a two-group pre-test and repeated post-test was conducted in one of the largest public housing estates in Hong Kong. A total of 142 parents were recruited, with 72 parents randomly assigned to the experimental group and 70 to the control group. Harsh parenting practices, parent–child relationships and parental stress were assessed.
In comparison to parents in the control group, those in the experimental group engaged in less harsh parenting practices and reported better parent–child relationships. However, parental stress scores did not differ significantly between the two groups.
This study addressed a gap in the literature by examining the effectiveness of the training programme for enhancing parent–child relationship and decreasing parental stress at the time of a child’s transition to primary school. The findings from this study provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the parental training programme and highlight the significance of parenting in promoting a smooth transition for children from kindergarten to primary 1.
Trial registration NCT01845948.
PMCID: PMC3870999  PMID: 24237718
Children; Harsh parenting practices; Parent–child relationships; Parental stress; Transition
11.  Pro-Inflammatory Adipokines as Predictors of Incident Cancers in a Chinese Cohort of Low Obesity Prevalence in Hong Kong 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78594.
Cytokines released from adipose tissues induce chronic low-grade inflammation, which may enhance cancer development. We investigated whether indices of obesity and circulating adipokine levels could predict incident cancer risk.
Materials and Methods
This longitudinal community-based study included subjects from the Hong Kong Cardiovascular Risk Factors Prevalence Study (CRISPS) study commenced in 1995-1996 (CRISP-1) with baseline assessments including indices of obesity. Subjects were reassessed in 2000-2004 (CRISPS-2) with measurement of serum levels of adipokines including interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (sTNFR2; as a surrogate marker of tumor necrosis factor-α activity), leptin, lipocalin 2, adiponectin and adipocyte-fatty acid binding protein (A-FABP). Incident cancer cases were identified up to 31 December 2011.
205 of 2893 subjects recruited at CRISPS-1 had developed incident cancers. More of the subjects who developed cancers were obese (22.1 vs 16.1%) or had central obesity (36.6 vs 24.5%) according to Asian cut-offs. Waist circumference (adjusted HR 1.02 [1.00-1.03] per cm; p=0.013), but not body mass index (adjusted HR 1.04 [1.00-1.08] per kg/m2; p=0.063), was a significant independent predictor for incident cancers after adjustment for age, sex and smoking status. 99 of 1899 subjects reassessed at CRISPS-2 had developed cancers. Subjects who developed cancers had significantly higher level of hsCRP, IL-6, sTNFR2 and lipocalin 2. After adjustment for conventional risk factors, only IL-6 (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.18-1.95) and sTNFR2 (HR 3.27, 95%CI 1.65-6.47) predicted cancer development.
Our data supported the increased risk of malignancy by chronic low grade inflammation related to central obesity.
PMCID: PMC3813474  PMID: 24205276
12.  Assessment of weight-related factors of adolescents by private practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:141.
Few studies have examined how common physicians assess various weight-related variables and patient characteristics that predict such assessments based on adolescents’ reports. We aimed to examine how common adolescents received weight-related physical measurements and lifestyle enquiries (dietary habits and physical activity) from private practitioners and to identify factors associated with these assessments.
In the Hong Kong Student Obesity Surveillance (HKSOS) project, 33692 students (44.9% boys; mean age 14.8, SD 1.9 years, age range 11–18) from 42 randomly selected schools completed an anonymous questionnaire. The students were asked “In the past 12 months, has any private practitioners (or their nurses) measured or asked about these items?” Response options included height, weight, waist circumference (WC), blood pressure (BP), BMI, diet, and physical activity. Weight status was based on self-reported weight and height. Logistic regression was used to identify student characteristics associated with each assessment. Analyses were conducted using STATA 10.0.
Among 13283 students who had doctor consultations in the past 12 months, 37.9% received physical measurements or lifestyle enquiries, with weight (20.8%), height (16.8%) and blood pressure (11.5%) being the most common, followed by diet (8.1%), BMI (6.3%), WC and physical activity (both 4.6%). In general, adolescents who were female, older, underweight or overweight/obese, had parents with higher education level, and had actively asked private practitioners for advice about weight were more likely to receive assessments of weight-related factors.
Weight-related factors in adolescents were infrequently assessed by private practitioners in Hong Kong. Generally, unhealthy weight, higher parental education and advice-seeking by adolescents predicted these assessments.
PMCID: PMC3852667  PMID: 24070145
Adolescent; Assessment; Body weight; Private practitioners
13.  A Randomized Controlled Trial of Two Different Lengths of Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:961751.
This study examined if 2-week free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) would be more effective than 1-week free NRT to help smokers quit smoking at 6 and 12 months. In a single-blinded randomized controlled trial design, 562 Chinese smokers who attended a smoking cessation clinic in Hong Kong, China, were randomly allocated into two groups (A1 and A2): A1 (n = 284) received behavioural counselling with free NRT for 1 week; A2 (n = 278) received similar counselling with free NRT for 2 weeks. All subjects received printed self-help materials to support their quitting efforts. A structured questionnaire was used for data collection, including pattern of NRT use and self-reported 7-day point prevalence quit rate at 6 months and 12 months. Among the participants, the mean number of cigarettes smoked per day was 18.8 (SD = 10.9). By intention-to-treat analysis, 7-day point prevalence quit rates were not significantly different between A1 and A2 groups at 6-month (27.5% versus 27.3%; P = 0.97) and 12-month (21.1% versus 21.2%; P = 0.98) followup. The findings suggest that two-week free NRT was not more effective than 1-week free NRT to increase smoking cessation rate among Chinese smokers.
PMCID: PMC3782125  PMID: 24089693
14.  Social Determinants of Health Information Seeking among Chinese Adults in Hong Kong 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73049.
Health communication inequalities were observed in Western population but less is known about them among the Chinese. We investigated health information seeking behaviours and its social determinants among Chinese adults in Hong Kong.
Probability-based sample surveys over telephone were conducted in 2009, 2010/11 and 2012 to monitor family health and information use. Frequency of health information seeking from television, radio, newspapers/magazines and Internet were recorded and dichotomised as ≥1 time/month and <1 time/month (reference). Logistic regression was used to yield adjusted odds ratios (aOR) of health information seeking for different demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status (education, employment and income), chronic disease and behaviours (smoking, drinking and physical activity).
Among 4553 subjects in all surveys, most (85.1%) had sought health information monthly from newspapers/magazines (66.2%), television (61.4%), radio (35.6%) or Internet (33.2%). Overall, being male, lower education attainment, lower household income, ever-smoking and physical inactivity were associated with less frequent health information seeking (all P <0.05). Compared with younger people, older people were less likely to search health information from Internet but more like to obtain it from radio (both P for trend <0.001). Having chronic diseases was associated with frequent health information seeking from television (aOR  =  1.25, 95% CI: 1.07–1.47) and Internet (aOR  =  1.46, 95% CI: 1.24–1.73).
This study has provided the first evidence on health information inequalities from a non-Western population with advanced mass media and Internet penetration. Socioeconomic inequalities and behavioural clustering of health information seeking suggested more resources are needed for improving health communication in disadvantage groups.
PMCID: PMC3751869  PMID: 24009729
15.  Plasma Level of Adrenomedullin Is Influenced by a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism in the Adiponectin Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70335.
Adrenomedullin (ADM) and adiponectin are both involved in inflammation and cardiovascular diseases. The plasma levels of these peptides are influenced by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the ADM and ADIPOQ genes respectively. There is some evidence that ADM may regulate adiponectin gene expression, but whether adiponectin can regulate ADM expression is unclear, and was therefore investigated.
Plasma ADM level was measured in 476 subjects in the Hong Kong Cardiovascular Risk Factor Prevalence Study-2 (CRISPS2). We genotyped them for 2 ADIPOQ SNPs that are known to be associated with plasma adiponectin level.
The minor allele frequencies of ADIPOQ SNPs rs182052 and rs12495941 were 40.6% and 42.2% respectively. Plasma ADM level was significantly associated with rs182052 after adjusting for age and sex (β = 0.104, P = 0.023) but not with rs12495941 (β = 0.071, P = 0.120). In multivariate analysis, plasma ADM level increased with the number of minor alleles of rs182052 (P = 0.013). Compared to subjects with GG genotype, subjects with AA genotype had 17.7% higher plasma ADM level (95% CI: 3.6%–33.7%). Subgroup analysis revealed that the association was significant in diabetic patients (β = 0.344, P = 0.001) but not in non-diabetic subjects.
Plasma ADM level is related to SNP rs182052 in the ADIPOQ gene. Our findings provide new evidence of the interplay between these two important peptides in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Knowing the genotype may help to refine the interpretation of these biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3731362  PMID: 23936408
16.  Sex knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among unmarried youth in Hong Kong 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:691.
Little is known about sex knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among unmarried youth in Hong Kong. It is of public health importance to investigate this topic to inform sex education, policymaking, and prevention and intervention programs.
Based on the Youth Sexuality Survey conducted by Hong Kong Family Planning Association (FPAHK) in 2011, this study explored the characteristics of sexual knowledge, attitudes, and high-risk sexual behaviors among 1,126 unmarried youth aged 18 to 27 years. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to examine factors associated with unmarried youth’s premarital sex, casual relationships, multiple sex partners, and premarital pregnancy.
Unmarried youth in Hong Kong had adequate sex knowledge, but contraceptive knowledge was deficient. The majority of unmarried youth (63.8%) held liberal attitudes toward premarital sex and about half held liberal attitudes toward any form of sexual activity and premarital pregnancy. Around 60% held conservative attitudes toward causal sex relationships and multiple sex partners. Males tended to hold more liberal attitudes toward high-risk sex behaviors than female youth. Approximately 41.5% of unmarried youth reported having engaged in premarital sex, whereas less than 10% engaged in high-risk sexual behaviors. Males also reported higher amounts of premarital sex, casual sex relationships, and multiple sex partners. Females reported higher levels of sexual coercion. Logistic regressions indicated that being older, coming from a divorced family, out of school status and liberal attitudes toward risky sex behavior were more likely to engage in premarital sex or high-risk sex behaviors, and being female, being better educated and being immigrants were less likely to engage in premarital sex. However, being immigrants was more likely to engage in casual relationship and to have multiple partners.
Premarital sex is becoming more prevalent among unmarried youth in Hong Kong, and a small proportion of young adults are engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors. Sex education and HIV prevention programs should equip them with adequate knowledge on contraception and condom use. Intervention programs can start with their attitudes toward sex.
PMCID: PMC3729422  PMID: 23895326
17.  Moderate Alcohol Use and Cardiovascular Disease from Mendelian Randomization 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68054.
Observational studies show moderate alcohol use negatively associated with ischemic heart disease (IHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, healthier attributes among moderate users compared to never users may confound the apparent association. A potentially less biased way to examine the association is Mendelian randomization, using alcohol metabolizing genes which influence alcohol use.
We used instrumental variable analysis with aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) genotypes (AA/GA/GG) as instrumental variables for alcohol use to examine the association of alcohol use (10 g ethanol/day) with CVD risk factors (blood pressure, lipids and glucose) and morbidity (self-reported IHD and CVD) among men in the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.
ALDH2 genotypes were a credible instrument for alcohol use (F-statistic 74.6). Alcohol was positively associated with HDL-cholesterol (0.05 mmol/L per alcohol unit, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02 to 0.08) and diastolic blood pressure (1.15 mmHg, 95% CI 0.23 to 2.07) but not with systolic blood pressure (1.00 mmHg, 95% CI -0.74 to 2.74), LDL-cholesterol (0.03 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.08), log transformed triglycerides (0.03 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.08) or log transformed fasting glucose (0.01 mmol/L, 95% CI -0.006 to 0.03), self-reported CVD (odds ratio (OR) 0.98, 95% CI 0.76 to 1.27) or self-reported IHD (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.45).
Low to moderate alcohol use among men had the expected effects on most CVD risk factors but not fasting glucose. Larger studies are needed to confirm the null associations with IHD, CVD and fasting glucose.
PMCID: PMC3712994  PMID: 23874492
18.  The illusion of righteousness: corporate social responsibility practices of the alcohol industry 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:630.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an integral element of how the alcohol industry promotes itself. The existing analyses of CSR in the alcohol industry point to the misleading nature of these CSR practices. Yet, research has been relatively sparse on how the alcohol industry advances CSR in an attempt to facilitate underlying business interests, and in what ways the ongoing display of industry CSR impacts public health. This paper aims to investigate the alcohol industry’s recent CSR engagements and explain how CSR forms part of the industry’s wider political and corporate strategies.
Our study used qualitative methods to collect and analyse data. We searched for materials pertaining to CSR activities from websites of three transnational alcohol corporations, social media platforms, media reports and other sources. Relevant documents were thematically analysed with an iterative approach.
Our analysis identified three CSR tactics employed by the alcohol companies which are closely tied in with the industry’s underlying corporate intents. First, the alcohol manufacturers employ CSR as a means to frame issues, define problems and guide policy debates. In doing this, the alcohol companies are able to deflect and shift the blame from those who manufacture and promote alcoholic products to those who consume them. Second, the alcohol corporations promote CSR initiatives on voluntary regulation in order to delay and offset alcohol control legislation. Third, the alcohol corporations undertake philanthropic sponsorships as a means of indirect brand marketing as well as gaining preferential access to emerging alcohol markets.
The increasing penetration and involvement of the alcohol industry into CSR highlights the urgent needs for public health counter actions. Implementation of any alcohol control measures should include banning or restricting the publicity efforts of the industry’s CSR and informing the public of the alcohol industry’s notion of social responsibility. More significantly, an internationally binding instrument should be called for to enable countries to differentiate between genuine concerns and spurious altruism, and in doing so, resist the industry’s attempt to erode alcohol control.
PMCID: PMC3706248  PMID: 23822724
Alcohol industry; Corporate social responsibility; Politics; Alcohol policies; Framework convention
19.  Secular trends of salted fish consumption and nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a multi-jurisdiction ecological study in 8 regions from 3 continents 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:298.
Despite salted fish being a classical risk factor of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC), whether secular trends in salted fish consumption worldwide accounted for changes in NPC rates were unknown. The relationship between vegetable and cigarette consumption to NPC risk worldwide were also largely uncertain. We investigated the longitudinal trends in standardised NPC incidence/mortality rates across 8 regions and their associations with secular trends in salted fish, vegetable and tobacco consumptions.
Age standardised mortality rate (ASMR) and age standardised incidence rate (ASIR) of NPC were obtained from the WHO cancer mortality database and Hong Kong Cancer Registry. Per capita consumption of salted fish, tobacco and vegetables in Hong Kong and 7 countries (China, Finland, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, United Kingdom and United States) were obtained from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) and Hong Kong Trade and Census Statistics. Pearson correlation and multivariate analysis were performed to examine both crude and adjusted associations.
There were markedly decreasing trends of NPC ASIR and ASMR in Hong Kong over the past three decades, which were correlated with corresponding secular changes in salted fish consumption per capita (Pearson r for 10 cumulative years : ASIR = 0.729 (male), 0.674 (female); ASMR = 0.943 (male), 0.622 (female), all p < 0.05 except for female ASMR). However such associations no longer correlated with adjustments for decreasing tobacco and increasing vegetable consumption per capita (Pearson r for 10 cumulative years: ASIR = 2.007 (male), 0.339 (female), ASMR = 0.289 (male), 1.992 (female), all p > 0.05). However, there were no clear or consistent patterns in relations between NPC ASIR and ASMR with salted fish consumption across 7 regions in 3 continents.
Our results do not support the notion that changes in salted fish consumption had played an important role in explaining secular trends of NPC rates in Hong Kong and worldwide. Further studies should explore other lifestyle and genetic factors. However, our findings do support the potentially protective effects of vegetable consumption against NPC.
PMCID: PMC3729410  PMID: 23782497
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Salted fish consumption; Tobacco; Secular trend; Ecological study
20.  Underage alcohol drinking and medical services use in Hong Kong: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002740.
To investigate the association of underage alcohol drinking with medical consultation and hospitalisation in Hong Kong.
Cross-sectional study.
Secondary schools in Hong Kong.
A total of 33 300 secondary 1 (US grade 7) to secondary 5 students (47.6% boys; mean age 14.6 years, SD 1.6) in 85 randomly selected schools.
Outcome measures
An anonymous questionnaire was used to obtain information about medical consultation in the past 14 days, hospitalisation in the past 12 months, drinking alcohol, smoking, illicit drug use, physical activity, secondhand smoke exposure, feeling depressed, feeling anxious and sociodemographic characteristics. Drinking alcohol was categorised as non-drinking (reference), <1, 1–2 and 3–7 days/week. Logistic regression yielded adjusted ORs (AORs) of medical consultation and hospitalisation for drinking, adjusting for different potential confounders. Subgroup analysis was conducted among adolescents who did not report feeling anxious or depressed.
More than one-fourth (27.6%) of adolescents drank alcohol, 15.9% had medical consultation and 5.1% had been hospitalised. In the fully adjusted model, the AORs (95% CI) for medical consultation were 1.14 (1.06 to 1.23) for <1 day/week, 1.30 (1.13 to 1.50) for 1–2 days/week and 1.70 (1.41 to 2.06) for 3–7 days/week of drinking compared with non-drinking (p for trend <0.001). The corresponding AORs (95% CI) for hospitalisation were 1.14 (1.02 to 1.28), 1.68 (1.32 to 2.14) and 2.38 (1.90 to 2.98) (p for trend <0.001). Similar associations were observed among students who did not feel anxious or depressed.
Alcohol consumption was associated with medical services use in Chinese adolescents. More rigorous alcohol control policies and health promotion programmes are needed to reduce alcohol drinking and related harms in adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3664344  PMID: 23793697
Public Health; Epidemiology
21.  Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Health Services Use among Adolescent Current Smokers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64322.
To investigate the associations of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure with medical consultation and hospitalisation among adolescents in Hong Kong.
A total of 35827 secondary 1 (US grade 7) to secondary 5 students from 85 randomly selected schools completed an anonymous questionnaire on smoking, SHS at home, SHS outside home, medical consultation in the past 14 days, hospitalisation in the past 12 months, and socio-demographic characteristics. Current smoking was defined as any smoking in the past 30 days. SHS exposure was classified as none (reference), 1–4 and 5–7 days/week. Logistic regression yielded adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for medical consultation and hospitalisation in relation to SHS exposure at home and outside home in current smokers. Analyses were also done among never-smokers for comparison.
Among all students, 15.9% had medical consultation and 5.2% had been hospitalised. Any SHS exposure at home was associated with AORs (95% CI) for medical consultation and hospitalisation of 1.69 (1.14–2.51) and 2.85 (1.47–5.52) in current smokers, and 1.03 (0.91–1.15) and 1.25 (1.02–1.54) in never-smokers, respectively, (P<0.01 for interaction between smoking status and SHS exposure at home). SHS exposure outside home was generally not associated with medical consultation and hospitalisation in smokers and never-smokers.
SHS exposure at home was associated with health services use among adolescent current smokers. Adolescent smokers should be aware of the harm of SHS in addition to that from their own smoking. The evidence helps health care professionals to advise adolescent smokers to avoid SHS exposure and stop smoking.
PMCID: PMC3648531  PMID: 23667706
22.  Will mothers of sick children help their husbands to stop smoking after receiving a brief intervention from nurses? Secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:50.
Second-hand smoke is a severe health hazard for children. Clinical guidelines suggest that nurses advise smoking parents to quit when they accompany their sick children to paediatric settings, but the guidelines did not mention what nurses can do if the parents are not with the children. This study examines the effectiveness of a low-intensity, nurse-led health instructional initiative for non-smoking mothers, to motivate them to take action to help their husbands stop smoking.
This was a randomised controlled trial and 1,483 non-smoking women, who were living with husbands who do smoke, were recruited when they accompanied with their sick children on hospital admission in general paediatic wards/outpatient departments of four hospitals in Hong Kong. The women were randomly allocated into intervention and control groups. The former received brief health education counselling from nurses, a purpose-designed health education booklet, a “no smoking” sticker, and a telephone reminder one week later; the control group received usual care. The primary outcome was the women”s action to help their smoking husbands stop smoking at 3-, 6- and 12-month follow-ups.
A higher proportion of women in the intervention than the control group had taken action to help their husbands stop smoking at the 3-month (76% vs. 65%, P < .001), 6-month (66% vs. 49%, P < .001) and 12-month (52% vs. 40%, P < .001) follow-ups. Women who had received the intervention, had better knowledge of the health hazards of smoking, higher intention to take action, perceived their husbands’ willingness to stop/reduce smoking, had previously advised their husbands to give up smoking, were aware of their husbands’ history of smoking and, were aware that their husbands had made an earlier quit attempt and intended to help them stop smoking at the follow-ups.
A brief health education intervention by nurses in paediatric settings can be effective in motivating the mothers of sick children to take action to help their husbands quit smoking. We recommend adding the following to the clinical practice guidelines on treating tobacco use and dependence: ‘Nurses should offer every non-smoking mother of a sick child brief advice to encourage their husbands to stop smoking’.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN72290421.
PMCID: PMC3626671  PMID: 23565835
Mothers of sick children; Nurse-led education; Paediatric settings; Randomised controlled trial; Smoking husband
23.  Effects of Depressive Symptoms and Family Satisfaction on Health Related Quality of Life: The Hong Kong FAMILY Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58436.
To examine the effect of depressive symptoms and satisfaction with family support (FS) on physical and mental Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL).
Data were obtained from the Hong Kong FAMILY Project baseline survey in 2009–2011, which included 16,039 community residents (age ≥20). The FS was measured using the Family Adaptation, Partnership, Growth, Affection, Resolve (APGAR, range 0–10) Questionnaire. HRQoL were assessed using the SF-12 version 2. Depressive symptoms were recorded using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Demographic and lifestyle variables, stressful life events, perceived neighborhood cohesion were also assessed.
In a multilevel regression model, socio-demographic and behavioral variables explained 21% and 19% of the variance in physical and mental HRQoL. The presence of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9 score ≥10, standardized coefficients, β of −1.73) and high FS (APGAR score 7–10, 1.15) were associated with mental HRQoL, after adjustment for age, education, household monthly income, drinking status, physical activity, chronic conditions, life stress and neighborhood cohesion. Not FS but the presence of depressive symptoms (β of −0.88) was associated with physical HRQoL. The presence of depressive symptoms in women than men were more associated with a poorer physical HRQoL (p<0.01) while depressive symptoms in men were associated with a decrease in mental HRQoL (p<0.001). The interaction between FS and depressive symptoms was nonsignificant in relation to HRQoL. Among those with depressive symptoms, high FS was associated with a better mental HRQoL (41.1 vs. 37.9, p<0.001) in women but not contribute to variance in men.
Higher FS and presence of depressive symptoms were significantly associated with HRQoL in general population in Hong Kong. Among those with depressive symptoms, high FS was associated with a favorable mental HRQoL in women but not men.
PMCID: PMC3597640  PMID: 23516480
24.  Elevated Circulating Adipocyte‐Fatty Acid Binding Protein Levels Predict Incident Cardiovascular Events in a Community‐Based Cohort: A 12‐Year Prospective Study 
Obesity is closely associated with various cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Adipose tissue inflammation and perturbation of adipokine secretion may contribute to the pathogenesis of CVD. This study aimed to evaluate whether the 2 most abundant adipokines, adipocyte‐fatty acid binding protein (A‐FABP) and adiponectin, are independent risk factors predisposing to CVD.
Method and Results
We investigated prospectively the 12‐year development of CVD in relation to the baseline levels of A‐FABP and adiponectin in a population‐based community cohort comprising 1847 Chinese subjects recruited from the Hong Kong Cardiovascular Risk Factors Prevalence Study 2 (CRISPS 2) cohort without previous CVD. Baseline serum levels of A‐FABP, adiponectin, and C‐reactive protein (CRP), an established biomarker predictive of CVD, were measured. In all, 182 (9.9%) of the 1847 Chinese subjects developed CVD during a median follow‐up of 9.4 years. The CVD group had more traditional risk factors, higher baseline levels of A‐FABP and CRP (both P<0.001), but similar adiponectin levels (P=0.881) compared with the non‐CVD group. In Cox regression analysis including both biomarkers, the adjusted HR for A‐FABP and CRP for subjects above the optimal cutoff values were 1.57 (95% CI, 1.14 to 2.16; P=0.006) and 1.60 (95% CI, 1.12 to 2.27; P=0.01), respectively, after adjustment for traditional risk factors. The category‐free net reclassification index, but not the c‐statistic, showed improvement in predictive performance by the addition of A‐FABP to the traditional risk factor model (P=0.017).
Circulating A‐FABP level predicts the development of CVD after adjustment for traditional risk factors in a community‐based cohort. Its clinical use for CVD prediction warrants further validation.
PMCID: PMC3603238  PMID: 23525430
adipocyte‐fatty acid binding protein; adipokines; adiponectin; cardiovascular diseases; inflammation
25.  Bringing scientific rigor to community-developed programs in Hong Kong 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1129.
This paper describes efforts to generate evidence for community-developed programs to enhance family relationships in the Chinese culture of Hong Kong, within the framework of community-based participatory research (CBPR).
The CBPR framework was applied to help maximize the development of the intervention and the public health impact of the studies, while enhancing the capabilities of the social service sector partners.
Four academic-community research teams explored the process of designing and implementing randomized controlled trials in the community. In addition to the expected cultural barriers between teams of academics and community practitioners, with their different outlooks, concerns and languages, the team navigated issues in utilizing the principles of CBPR unique to this Chinese culture. Eventually the team developed tools for adaptation, such as an emphasis on building the relationship while respecting role delineation and an iterative process of defining the non-negotiable parameters of research design while maintaining scientific rigor. Lessons learned include the risk of underemphasizing the size of the operational and skills shift between usual agency practices and research studies, the importance of minimizing non-negotiable parameters in implementing rigorous research designs in the community, and the need to view community capacity enhancement as a long term process.
The four pilot studies under the FAMILY Project demonstrated that nuanced design adaptations, such as wait list controls and shorter assessments, better served the needs of the community and led to the successful development and vigorous evaluation of a series of preventive, family-oriented interventions in the Chinese culture of Hong Kong.
PMCID: PMC3544572  PMID: 23276067
Community interventions; Chinese; Parenting; Community-based participatory research; Randomized controlled trials

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