Citizen’s Health Forum Shines a Light on Policy, Promotion, and Nutrition

Life expectancy in most developed countries is increasing. And while people living longer lives is an undeniably positive development, a corresponding drop in birth rates means that at a certain point, the task of taking care of older people could overwhelm health care systems and economies. It is therefore essential that as populations age, they maintain good health through exercise and proper nutrition.

Seeing the growing importance of promoting healthy, active lifestyles among aging societies in the Asia Pacific and beyond, AmCham Taiwan’s Retail Committee has since 2020 organized the annual Citizen’s Health Forum. The purpose of this event has been to bring together industry players, health care professionals, and some of the best minds in academia to deliver science-backed information in the areas of health and nutrition.

Ceasar Chen, Co-Chair, AmCham Taiwan’s Retail Committee

For the 2022 edition, the Committee has invited experts from Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and Canada to share the latest research on health nutrition, including the use of dietary supplements to ensure health. Topics to be covered include amino acids for sports nutrition and healthy aging, as well as cholesterol issues.

This year’s forum will for the first time also feature the voices of Taiwan’s government health authorities, who will share knowledge on the core issue of public health policy. Organizers have invited Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li and Sports Administration Deputy Director-General Lin Che-hung to take part in a discussion moderated by International Conference on Health Evaluation and Promotion Chair and professor of medicine at National Taiwan University Dr. Huang Kuo-chin.

Ceasar Chen, Retail Committee co-chair and general manager of Herbalife Nutrition Taiwan, one of the event’s sponsors, says that this year’s three main themes – health policy, health promotion, and nutrition – are complementary.

“We wish to stress that promoting health requires government policies to guide people on how to lead better lives by adopting healthy, active lifestyles,” Chen says. “We’re pleased to witness how the forum has evolved over the past three years to now being a platform for academia, industry, and government to connect and learn from each other. The more constructive dialogue we can facilitate, the better understanding we can achieve.”

Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li

Taiwan, like several of its neighbors, is simultaneously experiencing fewer births and greater longevity. Most predict that by 2025, it will become a super-aged society, meaning more than 20% of its population will be aged 65 or older. The government thus deems it imperative to set policies that encourage healthy aging.

“Proper nutrition is one of the key factors determining whether older people prematurely become frail or incapacitated,” says Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li. “To ensure that Taiwan’s elderly population is getting the right kind of nutrition, the HPA has issued guidance on good dietary choices for silver-haired citizens. This information helps seniors and those who look after them prepare appropriate meals, allowing them to ‘eat sufficiently, eat right, and eat smart.’”

In addition, Taiwan’s Sports Administration (SA) is continuously launching campaigns to promote healthy, active lifestyles at every stage of life. Lin Che-hung says the SA’s programs have helped raised the portion of the population that exercises or participates in sports from around 20% in 2006 to nearly 34% last year. He notes that Taiwan is now home to 57 public sports and recreation centers, and the SA has plans to build 21 more in the coming years.

Sports Administration Deputy Director-General Lin Che-hung

While being active has indeed become more popular in Taiwan in recent years, a study found that the waist sizes of Taiwanese adults have also been increasing, indicating that more of them are overweight. Among other factors, the rise of food delivery services in Taiwan since the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the availability of unhealthy foods, making it more convenient to have a poor diet.

“We always encourage people to avoid calorie-dense foods in favor of those rich in nutrients,” says Chen. “Such nutrients are also essential for active people to develop their bodies and stay in good shape.” Emphasizing the need for people of all ages to eat well, he adds that “nutrition is a critical component of this whole ecosystem. Everyone needs to consume nutritional foods every single day to protect themselves from illness.” Chen and his fellow committee members thus view the Citizen’s Health Forum as yet another tool to drive home the significance of nutrition to maintaining a healthy body.