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We’re top of the health league

Hong Kong Standard

Samson Lee

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hong Kong ranks first in terms of health, ahead of cities including Tokyo and Singapore.

A study by the London School of Economics, Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society and the University of Hong Kong looked at 129 cities, including Beijing, Moscow and Delhi, totalling 1.2 billion people.

Hong Kong had the highest health index of 0.88 (with 1 the full mark) and was followed by three cities with the same score of 0.86 – Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, and Singapore.

Professor of Urban Studies at the LSE Ricky Burdett said the health index was based on life expectancy, child mortality (death before a child’s fifth birthday) and other health indicators.

In Hong Kong, people live to an average age of 82.5 years. In New York life expectancy is 80.3 years while those living in London have an average age of 80.6 years.

Child mortality in Hong Kong has dropped from 13 per 1,000 live births in 1980 to less than four in 2009. It is now at two deaths per 1,000 births, compared to five in London.

Burdett believes Hong Kong topped the list because of a well-established health system.

“Urbanization has been associated with improvements in income levels and health outcomes. Global well-being will increasingly be determined by the health of urban dwellers,” he said, adding it is the first time for the LSE to conduct a study to compare health levels among metropolitan regions.

However, Hong Kong falls outside the top 10 when it comes to education, scoring 0.66. Sydney topped the list with 0.89. The index includes factors such as the average years of schooling.

In addition, the LSE and HKU interviewed more than 30 people during the summer to understand their thoughts about their living environments. It was found that convenience and accessibility is important to Hong Kong people.

A respondent told the research team that those living in Tai Po spent more time traveling than those in the city. “You’ve got to make a choice: either a better environment or a more convenient place,” he said.

The study weighed the trade-off between convenience and living in extremely cramped conditions such as partitioned flats in ShamShui Po.

Urban and health practitioners and academics from Europe, Africa and Australia will make over 40 presentations about health and well-being at a conference at the Conrad Hotel today and tomorrow

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