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Children's Health not at the Top of Hong Kong Mothers' Concerns
Even After SARS Outbreak

Watsons Pharmacy Self Care Launches HK$5 Million Campaign
To Address Children's Needs for Healthy Development

Hong Kong, 12 July, 2003 -- Watsons Pharmacy Self Care announced today its 'Children's Development' campaign to raise parents' awareness on issues that affect their children's health and development. The HK$5 million campaign is aimed at supporting Hong Kong parents to help their children maintain good health. A comprehensive set of information, health checks and consultation service will be available for an expected 100,000 families of children from babies to early teenagers during the two-month campaign.

Following the SARS outbreak, health has become the top concern to many Hong Kong people. However, a survey on Hong Kong mothers' attitude towards their children's health and development indicates that Hong Kong mothers are more concerned about their child's school performance than their health.

Parents pay less attention to health than school performance

According to the survey commissioned by Watsons and conducted by Synovate between 29 June and 4 July, 41% of the 606 respondents who are mothers of children between 3-12 years of age ranked school performance as their number one concern about their child while only 28% of mothers believed that a child maintaining good health is their key concern. The report also shows that the older the children the less attention mothers pay to their health.

Forty-nine percent of mothers whose child aged between 9-12 ranked school performance as their top concern; the percentage of mothers concerned about their child's health dropped to 22%. Forty-four percent of mothers whose child aged between 6-8 ranked school performance as the top concern and only 29% were concerned most about their child's health. Mothers' concerns on their child's school performance were also reflected by the monthly spending on extra curricular study programmes. Eighty percent of mothers paid for supplementary study programmes, tutorial classes and extra curriculum materials for their child; 42% of them spend more than HK$1,500 a month.

Margaret Lau, Watsons' Pharmacist Director said, "Under the depressing economy, life in Hong Kong has become so tough that parents tend to worry about their child's education more than their health. The survey findings are alarming. That's why we are launching the 'Children's Development' campaign to raise public awareness as well as a call for actions for parents to pay more attention to their child's health and the changing needs in their growth. Medical research indicates that maintaining good health and development at a young age might defer or even avoid development of chronic illnesses in a person's later part of life."

Few mothers aware of the importance of nutrition

There are several key areas that parents should be aware of regarding their child's healthy development, nutrition, exercise and living habits. The Watsons survey also tried to find out parents awareness on these areas and how children are doing in some of them.

When mothers were asked how they were assisting their child's intellectual development, most mothers indicated that they drilled their child's ability to think, read and speak but few considered their children's basic needs for good nutrition. It was found that most mothers chose talking more to the child (87%), asking their child to read more books (86%), and staying more with the child (84%) as helping develop a child's intellect, but few would prepare nutritious menu for their child (13%).

"Nutrition, care and stimulation are equally important to children's brain development. The positive impact of children's early exposure to good nutrition is long lasting. Wyeth, as a leader in providing innovative nutritional products for infants, young children and adults, is the first to introduce AA & DHA of vegetable oil source and the only one to carry alpha protein level similar to breast milk. Wyeth nutritional products also include important ingredients, such as nucleotides, carotenoids, and selenium to help enhance infant's and children's immune systems, digestive systems, and overall growth & development. In order to help moms lay a golden foundation for higher performance tomorrow for their kids, Wyeth (H.K.) Limited continues effort in promoting complete and healthy development of our next generation." said Alice Tang, Marketing Manager Wyeth (H.K.) Limited.

"By participating as a co-sponsor of Watsons Pharmacy Self Care Children's Development campaign, Wyeth (H.K.) Ltd. aims at educating parents on the importance of a balanced diet to babies and toddlers by providing proper childcare and feeding babies tips as well as latest information on children's nutrition," Alice Tang added.

Hong Kong children do not exercise regularly

The survey shows that most Hong Kong children do not exercise regularly. Twenty-nine percent of children do not exercise at all except for attending physical education lessons at school. The approximate period of PE lessons for primary students is only 70 to 80 minutes a week, which is far less than young children's need of physical activities for healthy growth and development. Among those who do exercise, almost four out of five children do not exercise on a daily basis. Forty-four percent of them exercise only one to two times a week, while just 25% exercise three to four times a week.

Stanley Hui, Associate Professor, Department of Sports Science and Physical Education commented on the findings that the health of Hong Kong children could be at risk in the long run if they do not exercise enough to maintain healthy growth. "It is well known that children nowadays spend too much time on physically non-active activities such as watching TV, playing computer games and consume too much high-cholesterol and greasy foods. We worry that children's fitness level will decline, which increases the possibility of incurring a higher risk in their early development of chronic diseases."

"Health is wealth. For a better future of our next generation, we urge the parents to take advantage of the free services provided by this campaign and help their child live and grow healthier. Although the campaign will be run only for two months, our initiatives on promoting children's healthy development will continue. Our pharmacists will always be available for guiding parents and their child through their growth," concluded Margaret Lau.

About Watsons Pharmacy Self Care 'Children's Development' campaign

The 'Children's Development' campaign is the 7th in a series of Watsons Pharmacy Self Care programmes since the programme itself was launched 15 months ago. The campaign kicked off at all of Watsons' 140 stores throughout Hong Kong. Professional pharmacist advice will be available at the 34 Watsons licensed pharmacy counters. It provides neighourhood healthcare consultant service to help parents take better care of their child. The campaign offerings are:

1. A Children's Development Passbook designed to help parents monitor key factors that affect their child's health and growth

2. A special edition of a Children's Development Guidebook

3. Fact cards outlining ten common children ailments

4. A Guide on Drug Safety for Children

5. Health Checks for Children including body fat, body mass index, growth monitoring, etc

6. Pharmacist Consultation - Specially trained pharmacists will be available to assess with parents on their child's health situation, identify risks of their development and provide professional advice as well as practical tips.

7. Ask Your Watsons Pharmacist activities - An enhanced health checks and drug consultation service will be touring at selected Watsons stores from July 11 to August 10. In addition to children health checks mentioned above, other health checks include bone density, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol.

8. Your Watsons Pharmacist Hotline 3169 3333 - It will be dedicated to provide professional advice on children's development further to general health and drugs counseling. It operates on Mon-Fri at 10am-7pm and on Sat at 10am-2pm.

Watsons Pharmacy Self Care 'Children's Development' campaign is sponsored by Wyeth (HK) Limited and supported by the Chinese University of Hong Kong's School of Pharmacy, Centre for Nutritional Studies and the School of Public Health, and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong's Drug Education Resources Centre.

About Watsons

Established in 1828, Watsons is the largest personal care retail chain in Asia Pacific operating close to 700 stores in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Building on its long-standing reputation for quality and innovation, plus a high degree of consumer confidence, Watsons caters to a variety of lifestyles with an unrivalled diversity of products.

In Hong Kong, Watsons has won a number of customer service awards and operates 140 stores with over 1,600 employees. As a leading chain in town, 34 of its Watsons stores have licensed pharmacy counters.