Seven Hong Kong Bakeries Join Salt Reduction Push

Victor Ting wrote . . . . . . . . .

Seven Hong Kong bread manufacturers have pledged to reduce salt levels in their prepackaged bread under a voluntary scheme launched by the government’s advisory body on food health.

But one company that did not join the health push was major food group Maxim’s.

The Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food, chaired by Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan, announced the plan on Friday.

Under the scheme, the seven manufacturers, including chain stores such as A-1 Bakery, Maria’s Bakery, ParknShop and Saint Honore Cake Shop will follow a voluntary target of reduction to 380 milligrams of sodium – the main constituent of salt – for every 100 g of prepackaged white bread and wholemeal bread on average in a year.

The maximum amount of salt will be set at 490 mg/100 g in white bread and 470 mg/100 g of wholemeal bread, according to the target.

Dr Henry Ng Chi-cheung, principal medical officer for risk assessment and communication at the Centre for Food Safety, said the reduction was necessary to keep city residents healthy.

“Food safety requires three stakeholders – the government, citizens and the industry – to work hand in hand,” Ng said. “The voluntary target is needed because, as we all know, too much salt in our diets will lead to a number of health problems, such as high blood pressure, stroke and kidney diseases.”

According to a 2014-15 Health Department report, Hongkongers between the ages of 15 and 84 have an average daily salt intake of 8.8g, more than the 5g recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Some 6 per cent of sodium consumed by adults comes from bread, while white bread and wholemeal bread are the most and second most consumed types of bread by Hongkongers, according to the Centre for Food Safety.

The Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food was set up in 2015 to promote healthier diets. Last year, the advisory body rolled out voluntary salt and sugar labels on the city’s packaged food and drink to give more dietary information to the public.

Dr Ng noted the government had talks with more than 10 bread suppliers, but only seven eventually signed up to the scheme, which did not include the city’s biggest bread manufacturer, Maxim’s.

He added that non-prepackaged bread could be included in the scheme in the future, but he did not think a mandatory target was the way forward.

“We’ve looked at how other countries have done it, and in the US, the UK and Canada, a voluntary target has proved to be effective,” he said. “Ultimately it’s about changing the culinary culture and habit of a place. If industries can work together and achieve the target, it’s actually a good way to do it.”

John Chong, chief executive of King Bakery, one of the seven manufacturers enrolled in the scheme, said lowering salt content involved adjusting the ingredients and the recipe, and would mean extra work for the bakery.

“But I think we should do it for the good health of Hong Kong residents,” Chong said. “I don’t think it tastes that different actually, but you can try it for yourself.”

Source: SCMP

Fresh Mozzarella Melt with Prosciutto, and Fig Jam


4 soft French or Italian rolls (or half-baked if available)
10-12 ounces fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup fig jam or fig preserves, to taste
soft butter for spreading on bread


  1. Split each roll, and layer with the mozzarella and prosciutto. Spread the top slices with the fig jam, then close up.
  2. Lightly butter the outside of each sandwich.
  3. Heat a heavy nonstick skillet or panini press over medium-high heat. Place the sandwiches in the pan, working in two batches depending on the size of the pan.
  4. Press the sandwiches or close the grill and brown, turning once or twice, until the bread is crisp and the cheese has melted. Though the rolls start off as round, once pressed they are considerably flatter and can be easily turned, albeit carefully.
  5. Serve right away, cut on the diagonal.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Grilled Cheese

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts

Walking Slower and Pausing for Rest May Enable Older Adults to Maintain Outdoor Mobility

When functional ability declines, changing the way of walking by, for instance, walking slower, pausing for rest or using walking aids, can facilitate older adults’ outdoor mobility. These were the findings of a study conducted at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä.

As functional ability declines, older people may start to have difficulties in walking long distances. At this point, older people might change their way of walking consciously or unconsciously.

“Changes may be seen, for instance, in lowering walking speed, pausing walking for rest or even in avoiding long walking distances altogether. These early changes in walking are called walking modifications,” doctoral student Heidi Skantz explains.

Previous research on walking modifications has implicitly considered modifications as an early sign of functional decline and such modifications have been shown to predict walking difficulties in the future. This previous research, however, has emphasized mainly the negative side of the use of walking modifications. We think that the potential positive, enabling, effects of walking modifications should also be considered.

“We wanted to find out if some of these changes in walking would be beneficial in maintaining outdoor mobility,” Skantz says.

Using walking aids, lowered walking speed and pausing for rest were categorized as adaptive walking modifications, since they were considered to reduce the task demand, whereas reduced frequency of walking and avoiding long walking distances were categorized as maladaptive modifications. This categorization was shown to be meaningful.

“Those older people who used maladaptive walking modifications had smaller life-space mobility and they perceived that they lacked possibilities for outdoor mobility,” Skantz says. “As for those older people who had chosen to utilise adaptive walking modifications, they were able to maintain wider life-space mobility and they were also satisfied with their outdoor mobility opportunities.”

As functional ability declines, walking long distances might become a harder and scarier task than before. In such a case, it still remains important to continue covering long distances by walking, even if with walking aids or by pausing walking, in order to maintain outdoor mobility.

“Encouraging older people to opt for adaptive walking modifications might be possible by designing age-friendly environments, for instance by providing opportunities to rest when walking outdoors. However this warrants further studies,” says Skantz.

The study participants were older people between the ages of 75 and 90, who were living in the Jyväskylä and Muurame regions in central Finland. The study was conducted at the Gerontology Research Center and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. This study was supported by European Research Council, the Academy of Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the University of Jyväskylä.

Source: EurekAlert!

Gum Disease Linked with Higher Risk of Hypertension

Sophia Antipolis wrote . . . . . . . . .

People with gum disease (periodontitis) have a greater likelihood of high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a study published today in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

Senior author Professor Francesco D’Aiuto of UCL Eastman Dental Institute, UK, said: “We observed a linear association – the more severe periodontitis is, the higher the probability of hypertension. The findings suggest that patients with gum disease should be informed of their risk and given advice on lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure such as exercise and a healthy diet.”

High blood pressure affects 30–45% of adults and is the leading global cause of premature death,2 while periodontitis affects more than 50% of the world’s population. Hypertension is the main preventable cause of cardiovascular disease, and periodontitis has been linked with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Hypertension could be the driver of heart attack and stroke in patients with periodontitis,” said Professor D’Aiuto. “Previous research suggests a connection between periodontitis and hypertension and that dental treatment might improve blood pressure, but to date the findings are inconclusive.”

This study compiled the best available evidence to examine the odds of high blood pressure in patients with moderate and severe gum disease. A total of 81 studies from 26 countries were included in the meta-analysis.

Moderate-to-severe periodontitis was associated with a 22% raised risk for hypertension, while severe periodontitis was linked with 49% higher odds of hypertension. Lead author Dr Eva Munoz Aguilera of UCL Eastman Dental Institute said: “We observed a positive linear relationship, with the hazard of high blood pressure rising as gum disease became more severe.”

Average arterial blood pressure was higher in patients with periodontitis compared to those without. This amounted to 4.5 mmHg higher systolic and 2 mmHg higher diastolic blood pressures. “The differences are not negligible,” said Dr Munoz Aguilera. “An average 5 mmHg blood pressure rise would be linked to a 25% increased risk of death from heart attack or stroke.”

Just 5 out of 12 interventional studies included in the review showed a reduction in blood pressure following gum treatment. The changes occurred even in people with healthy blood pressure levels.

Professor D’Aiuto said: “There seems to be a continuum between oral health and blood pressure which exists in healthy and diseased states. The evidence suggesting periodontal therapy could reduce blood pressure remains inconclusive. In nearly all intervention studies, blood pressure was not the primary outcome. Randomised trials are needed to determine the impact of periodontal therapy on blood pressure.”

Regarding potential reasons for the connection between the conditions, gum disease and the associated oral bacteria lead to inflammation throughout the body, which affects blood vessel function. Common genetic susceptibility could also play a role, along with shared risk factors such as smoking and obesity.

Professor D’Aiuto said: “In many countries throughout the world, oral health is not checked regularly, and gum disease remains untreated for many years. The hypothesis is that this situation of oral and systemic inflammation and response to bacteria accumulates on top of existing risk factors.”

He noted that the study investigated gum disease as a potential risk factor for hypertension, but the reverse could also be true. “Further research is needed to examine whether patients with high blood pressure have a raised likelihood of gum disease. It seems prudent to provide oral health advice to those with hypertension,” he said.

Source: European Society of Cardiology

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