January 2008

Like a Garfield poster I seen a decade ago, “Don’t talk to me until I have my morning coffee”, coffee has been Morning Savor for many in the world. In Singapore and many neighboring countries, kopi (thick coffee with sugar and milk), kopi-O (thick coffee with sugar only), kopi-C (thick coffee with evaporated milk) are the switches that turn on the human machinery before each day begins.


Now, contrary to previous research which said that people who drank coffee had a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, and those who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk, the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina is reporting that Caffeine appears to disrupt glucose metabolism in a way that could be harmful to people with type-2 diabetes’. It may interfere with the process that transports glucose from the blood into muscle and other cells in the body to be burned as fuel and that also triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline, which can elevate blood sugar levels.

Will all the coffee sellers alert diabetics and ask them to settle for decaf ? Will this research be reversed again in the foreseeable future ?

Heath Ledger, the Academy Award-nominated Australian actor died suddenly 1 week ago.


Originally suspected of drug overdose, now it is suspected that this actor in films like Brokeback Mountain, The Patriot,  The Dark Knight, etc died from natural causes ( heart attack) as the the levels of toxicity in his body (from medication) weren’t high enough to have caused his sudden death.

To die at 28 years of age of heart attack is not natural. Even if it was heart attack, what were the hidden reasons that triggered the heart attack?

Seems like the celebrity circle is full of such mysteries. Like the death of Bruce Lee, 35 years later, still a much debated subject of what led to his death and still a “misadventure”.

2 days ago, I went to the popular hawker center opposite Ginza Plaza. Seated in the center of that section facing the carpark, I was undecided as to what to choose for there are so many nice food there. My eyes kept scanning stall by stall awaiting my other senses to signal me to stop at a stall.

3 tables away, porridge was the signal, but there was no one cooking there. “How can it be good“, I thought but my senses said “go for it”.

Now my eyes start searching for the cook. Ha! there is this man in the 30s seated just infront of the stall. He was seated with his legs folded up, eyes scanning for customers.

GOSH ! One of his hands was scratching and picking on his legs and toes and the other on the table. How to indulge in this food? Porridge vanished from my senses. Few minutes later, 2 customers walked there (didn’t see what he was doing) and ordered porridge from him.

Instead of washing his hands, he went straight to cook. Handling the pot and the utensils with his “dirtied” hands didn’t seems any problem but will he need to pick his ingredients in order to cook? I didn’t want to see what will happen next. I left feeling hungry. I cannot bear to report them to the NEA (National Environment Agency). Like those who had seen stalls like this, I will just shun this stall.

Older days, Chinese has a saying “Dirty eat dirty grow big”. Does this still apply in today modern hygenic society of Singapore? Those who had seen stalls like this will probably just shun it.

Although NEA had been suspending hawker for failing to “observe good food and personal hygiene practices at all times” and encouraging the public to call their “24-hr NEA hotline at 1800-Call NEA (1800-2255632) to provide feedback on food hygiene matters“, the fundamental is probably the hawkers’ mindset.

As it involved the health of everyone patronising the stall, insisting that each cook attend some form of education at least once a year will be ideal.

Permanent poster at the hawker center telling the public to report errant hawker will drive the message to them that “the public is watching you, not just for the quality of your food but also what you don’t when you are waiting for customers.

Every day, over 5 Singaporeans suffered heart attack (2,000 per year). 50% of them died when proper medical help cannot arrive on time. Shocking ?

This is case of MC King, although the actual cause of his death resulting in “breathing difficulties” is awaiting the coroner’s report. Few days ago, a Chinese evening daily reported that a healthy fat Indian working in Singapore suffered breathing difficulties as he was riding on his motorcycle back to Johor Baru (Malaysian city across from Singapore) and died soon of heart failure. Heath Ledger, the Academy Award-nominated Australian actor is now suspected of dying from heart attack instead of drug overdose.

No one will die from cancer instantly, but when the heart stops pumping, that can the end of it! So what is the point of just having the best brain?

Heart disease is now the NUMBER 2 killer in Singapore, closing in cancer. In the USA & Europe, heart disease has already dethroned cancer as the #1 killer.

According to the “State of Health 2001” report, it showed that heart disease accounts for 26.3% death; that is 1in 4 persons. In the USA, it is only 1 in 5. Scary huh ?

If anyone has one or more of these major risk factors (identified by the World Heart Federation) which is associated with coronary heart disease and stroke such as smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, he/she is likely to add to this statistics.

According to the same report, 27.3% of Singaporeans are hypertensive; 58% are physically inactive during their leisure; and 24% are overweight, of whom about 6% are obese.

That is 7 years ago, based on the modern increasingly “unhealthy” living and the deteriorating mother earth, what will be the statistics now ?

What killed gongfu megastar Bruce Lee 35 years ago ? Bruce Lee

After the sudden death back in July 1973 of martial art icon Bruce Lee (李小龙), the Hong Kong court and forensics then concluded that he died from cerebral edema (a swelling of the brain caused by a congestion of fluid) in reaction to the painkiller Equagesic given to him by his girl friend and actress Betty Ting Pei. Thus his death was classified as “death by misadventure”.

Although his legacy in Hong Kong has been tainted by rumors of drug taking and affairs shortly before his death, Bruce Lee remains an inspiration to many people who had seen his movies, known his profound teachings and philosophies such as “Using no way as way. Having no limitation as limitation” and “All knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge”. His legend lives forever. A survey in a school poll found that Bruce Lee remains the number one male icon among Hong Kong children, finishing ahead of Jackie Chan and David Beckham.

To date, all kinds of websites published his life as well rumors that he was killed by Chinese mafia or Shaolin monks, being cursed, haunted by personal ghost, etc.

In an interesting twist two weeks ago, Apple Daily of Hong Kong reported that there are 2 other possible reasons for his death. The media had an exclusive interview with an ex-reporter Du Huidong who worked in the same movie production company as Bruce. This senior person supposedly was closely acquainted with Bruce as well as his girlfriend actresses such as Betty Ting Pei and Nora Miao.

1. As Bruce was born in San Francisco, live, educated and worked there, he had known about strengthening muscles using medication. Everyday, he was said to take close to hundred units of vitamins, fast action nutrients, muscle enhancement products, etc. Such over-dosage could have caused his biological system to go haywire. Moreover, everyday, he must drink a big cup of fresh beef banana milkshake and could have compounded the conflicts – yucks !

2. Half a year before his death, Bruce loved to use a Japanese invented electric muscle vibration machine. He was quoted saying that his limit of lifting dumb bells was between 300 to 500 times. After subjecting his muscles to the electric vibration machine for 3 minutes, the exercise effect was more than half a day of his dumb bells lifting. However, this electrical vibration in fact disturbed one’s biological clock and caused the person not to feel any fatigue. The problem will surfaced after a prolonged period. One year after his death, an Indonesia Chinese who had used the same type of machine died of brain hemorrhage.

The over-dosage of medication and unorthodox exercising of the human body will certainly backfire on anyone wanting to challenge nature. His death, I believed was a wake-up call for his peers and those who wanted to be like him physically.

Today, fortunately there are ubiquitous print and online health information as well as strict control by local health authorities on medication which will prevent such tragedy from ever happening.

You grow fat because of ……

This morning, a nice lady called our hotline to understand more about our Good Image Tea which she saw on one of the online portals. 

She had wanted to reduce further her weight and she candidly lamented that “life is unfair” as her siblings are not obese except her and she sighed with laughter that “this world is cruel too, people around you including family members and neighbors can laughed at you when you are obese”.  Her weight gain she believed was due to genetics, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and slow metabolism. 

Within the survey of Synovate which showed Singaporeans as the least weight-obsessed community, 11% of the 19,000 respondents from 13 countries said that genetics is the main cause of their obesity. Of this figure, the highest number who blame on genetics were the Brazilians (20%) are followed by people from the UAE (19%) and Saudis (18%).


Other statistics were:-

* 40% of the respondents attribute food as the culprit
* 20% chose ‘unhealthy food choices’
* 20% chose ‘unhealthy food habits like eating at irregular hours’.
* 18% say it is ‘lack of exercise’
* 13% blame the individual (‘no self-discipline’)

Currently, obesity has reached epidemic proportions in developed nations as well as many developing countries. ‘No self-discipline’ is what respondents in the UK (21%) & USA (20%) believed is the leading factor in obesity. USA and UK tops the number of overweight and obese populations.

Interestingly, unlike other matters in which citizens will like to blame their government for, however when come to obesity, very few people blame it on their government. 

Other research showed the Americans blame obesity on the influence from family members and friends.

Is it true Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

From the recent global survey of 9,000 people across 13 countries (UK, USA, UAE, France, Czech Republic, Romania, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia) by a global market research firm, Synovate, Singaporeans are the least weight-obsessed people in the world as compared to the American and the French :-

  • 37% of Singaporeans saying that they never weigh themselves
  • 29% said their weight never change
  • 60% eat whatever they want, whenever they wantbathroom-scale.jpg

15% of Hong Kong people weigh themselves once or more every week and 60% only weigh when they remember.

Americans and French are most weight-obsessed, 15% of French people and 12% of Americans weigh themselves every single day and 50% of them will weigh at least once a week or more.

French attributed this to the fact that “French people take care of their image as a matter of course. Being thin is part of our culture and a point of pride. We are known for it. On top of this, there is increasing awareness of the devastation that obesity can cause to one’s health.

So, is it true that Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

Most homes do not have a weighing scale even though the price is so affordable now and they comes with digital meter (more accurate), all kinds of colors and design. Are we too busy to weigh or we are like the 29% who really believed that our weight never change or there a no necessity to weigh since we believed we are healthy or weight change doesn’t matter.

Some feedbacks are that they are afraid to see their weight fluctuate, especially when it has increased. Some felt weighing scale is quite a silly gadget to buy, a waste of money. Some Chinese old folks joked that Chinese don’t weigh themselves except to animals for sale (butcher’s family!?).

Going by the sprouting of health fitness and slimming centers, etc. around the island, weighing scales are everywhere. Moreover, all medical clinics will have it too. Those who are consuming weight-loss medicine, traditional herbal weight reduction beverages, etc should be weighing prior and after the dosage period to assess its effectiveness. So, most people would have themselves weighed.

I really wonder for those 29% who said that their weight never change, are they those who frequent the fitness center or exercise regularly themselves or resort to weight control medicine or supplements? In addition, for those 37% who do not weigh, do they eat whatever they want and whenever they want?

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