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Findings of National Health Survey 2004


National Health Survey 2004

Nutshell of Health Report
Last year, the Ministry of Health conducted a survey to find out the level of diabetes, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart diseases and stroke.
The health status of Singaporeans has improved remarkably since the last survey in 1998. The National Heath Survey 2004 (NHS04), involving 4,168 adults aged between 18-69 years old found the following:
  • Fewer Singaporeans have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Fewer are smoking and more are exercising to stay trim and fit. 
  • Obesity is also not on the rise, as the proportion of Singaporeans who are overweight remains about the same.
  • All three major ethnic groups (Chinese, Malays and Indian) have made good progress in their health status.
Another encouraging trend is that more people now know about their health condition instead of being ignorant about them. More diabetics were found to have good blood sugar control and more hypertensives had good blood pressure control indicating improved management of these conditions.
The good progress is made possible through a number of community-based health promotion programmes aimed at preventing the onset of diseases through lifestyle changes, notably in diet and physical activity. In Singapore, the National Healthy Lifestyle Programme was started in 1992.
It is a multi-strategy efforts involving community organizations, workplace and schools and collaborative efforts with food suppliers to provide healthier food options. The tailor-made intervention programmes for targeted groups e.g young women, Malay community and working adults have reaped results.
Diabetes mellitus
The prevalence of diabetes among adults fell from 9.0% in 1998 to 8.2% in 2004. A higher proportion of men were diabetic (8.9%) compared with women (7.6%). As in 1998, Indians had the highest prevalence of diabetes (15.3%), compared with Malays (11.0%) and Chinese (7.1%). Malay females have shown the most progress since the 1998 survey with significant decline in diabetes from 14% in 1998 to 10% in 2004.
The survey also found that a higher proportion of diabetics were aware of their condition. Among the diabetics, the proportion of those whose condition had not been diagnosed previously fell markedly from 62.1% in 1998 to 49.4% in 2004.
High Blood Pressure
The high blood pressure (hypertension) level of adults declined from 21.5% in 1998 to 20.1% in 2004. A higher proportion of men were hypertensive (24.5%) compared to women (15.9%).
Among the ethnic groups, the hypertension level was highest in the Chinese (20.8%), compared with Malays (18.1%) and Indians (16.7%). The decline in percentage of Malay females suffering from high blood pressure was most significant compared to females in other ethnic groups (from 27% in 1998 to 18% in 2004).
Among those found to have hypertension, the proportion of previously-undiagnosed hypertensives declined from 55.0% in 1998 to 39.7% in 2004.
The prevalence of daily cigarette smoking among adults declined significantly from 15.2% in 1998 to 12.6% in 2004. Daily cigarette smoking was much more prevalent among men (21.8%) than women (3.5%). Malay men had the highest prevalence of daily cigarette smoking (29.9%), compared with Indian men (22.4%) and Chinese men (20.5%).
The drop in the percentage of smokers is most significant among the Malay males (from 43% in 1998 to 30% in 2004) and Indian males (from 31% in 1998 to 22% in 2004).
While the proportion of men who smoke daily decreased significantly from 27.1% in 1998 to 21.8% in 2004, the proportion of women smokers remained at about the same level (3.2% in 1998 and 3.5% in 2004).
The proportion of young women (18-29 age group) who were daily smokers rose from 5.2% in 1998 to 6.6% in 2004. In this group, smoking was more common among Malays (17.0%) compared to 5.1% among Chinese and 2.4% among Indian young women.
Regular Exercise
The proportion of adults aged 18 to 69 years who exercised regularly increased significantly from 16.8% in 1998 to 24.9% in 2004. The improvement is seen in both genders and all three ethnic groups. Regular physical exercise was most prevalent among Indians (28.8%) compared with Malays (28.0%) and Chinese (24.0%). It still remains that more men are exercising regularly compared to women.
The proportion of obese adults aged 18 to 69 years was 6.9% in 2004. Although the proportion was slightly higher than the 6.0% in 1998, the difference was not statistically significant.
Obesity was more prevalent among the females (7.3%) compared with males (6.4%). Malays had the highest proportion of obese adults (19.1%) followed by Indians (13.4%) and Chinese (4.2%).
Of note is the almost doubling in the proportion of obese Malay males from 8.8% in 1998 to 16.9% in 2004. Overall, more Malay and Indian women continue to be obese compared to their male counterparts.
Blood cholesterol
The proportion of adults aged 18 to 69 years with high cholesterol decreased significantly from 25.4% in 1998 to 18.7% in 2004. High cholesterol was most prevalent among Malays (22.8%), compared with Chinese (18.2%) and Indians (16.9%).
What is heartening is that Malay females showed the most progress as the proportion with high cholesterol dropped from 31% in 1998 to 18% in 2004.
Overall, there was a decrease in the prevalence of low HDL-cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and high LDL-cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") compared to that in 1998.

Source: Ministry of Health Press Release 24 Apr 2005



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26 April 2005