It’s cheaper to eat healthy at this hos­pi­tal

KTPH’s drive to pro­mote health­ier diet part of mea­sures to cre­ate leaner, fit­ter work­force

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Feli­cia Choo

At some food­courts in Sin­ga­pore, one may be able to swop white rice for brown at a slight premium, or per­haps at the same price.

But the de­fault op­tion is re­versed at Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal (KTPH) – din­ers pay more for white rice.

The same goes for drinks sold at its NTUC Food­fare food­court, Food­fare @KTPH, with less-sugar op­tions cheaper than the stan­dard ones. Brown rice or noo­dles, for in­stance, cost 30 cents less than the white ver­sions, while less sug­ary drinks are 20 cents to 50 cents cheaper.

This sys­tem was im­ple­mented in 2010 to en­cour­age pa­trons, in­clud­ing staff, to eat more healthily.

And it is pay­ing off. Back in 2010, only 10 per cent of pa­trons chose health­ier op­tions. This year, 65 per cent of them did so, said KTPH’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, Ms Yen Tan.

The drive to pro­mote a health­ier diet is one of many ini­tia­tives spear­headed by KTPH to cre­ate a healthy work­place en­vi­ron­ment.

The pos­i­tive re­sults thus far have prompted the pub­lic hos­pi­tal to pub­lish a book this month, de­tail­ing how it cre­ated a leaner, health­ier work­force.

The book, ti­tled The Five Pil­lars Of Health – The Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal Ex­pe­ri­ence, is be­lieved to be the first of its kind put out by a pub­lic hos­pi­tal here. It has been distributed to other re­struc­tured hos­pi­tals, schools, as well as food­courts and con­ve­nience stores.

“If we want to shift the pop­u­la­tion to­wards a health­ier life­style, the work­place is a very im­por­tant place to start be­cause we spend eight to 10 hours at work,” said KTPH chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Chew Kwee Tiang.

“And if the em­ployer works with the part­ners who are pro­vid­ing the food and the de­sign (of the food dis­play)... I think we can make a healthy life­style hap­pen.”

The ef­forts by KTPH are aligned with a wider movement in Sin­ga­pore to en­cour­age healthy life­styles at work­places.

Last week, the Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Author­ity an­nounced that it is col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Health Pro­mo­tion Board to de­velop a new Green Mark scheme – to be launched next year – for build­ings that have fea­tures like in­door green­ery, ex­er­cise fa­cil­i­ties and health­ier food and drink op­tions.

Be­sides eat­ing healthy, the staff at KTPH also take part in a yearly “fit­ness chal­lenge”. That is where they per­form a va­ri­ety of phys­i­cal tests, such as sit-ups, push-ups, sit-an­dreach and a 2.4km run or 1.6km brisk walk. They are then graded ac­cord­ing to their fit­ness level.

Over the past three years, more than 60 per cent of par­tic­i­pants fell in the “fit” to “ex­cel­lent” cat­e­gories, said Ms Mag­da­lene Chai, group chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer for Alexan­dra Health Sys­tem, the health­care group that runs the hos­pi­tal.

The staff’s yearly health screen­ing re­sults have also shown some im­prove­ments. The pro­por­tion of staff with high blood pres­sure fell from 8.6 per cent in 2012 to 6.7 per cent last year, and the pro­por­tion of those with high choles­terol also dropped from 13.3 per cent to 8.9 per cent in the same time­frame.

More than three-quar­ters of KTPH’s around 4,000 staff un­der­went last year’s health screen­ing.

Staff nurse Liew Han Ming, 23, cred­ited his weight loss to the con­ve­nience of ex­er­cis­ing at his work­place. The 1.76m-tall man weighed 95kg when he started work­ing at KTPH two years ago, as he had a habit of eat­ing more when stressed.

He then started jog­ging at the hos­pi­tal gym and nearby Yishun Park nearly every day and lost 20kg in three months.

Other pub­lic hos­pi­tals such as Sin­ga­pore Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal (SGH) and the Na­tional Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal also have ex­er­cise classes and en­cour­age healthy eat­ing.

In Septem­ber last year, SGH worked with the Health Pro­mo­tion Board on a 12-week pro­gramme for low-in­come work­ers aged 40 and above who lead seden­tary life­styles. These staff un­der­went as­sess­ments and took part in work­outs catered to their needs.

At the end of the pro­gramme, 80 per cent of the 250 par­tic­i­pants had a health­ier body mass in­dex and 88 per cent of those who ini­tially suf­fered some form of body pain re­ported im­prove­ments.


Chicken with brown rice – the de­fault op­tion – sold at Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal’s Food­fare@KTPH food­court. To pro­mote healthy eat­ing, brown rice or noo­dles at the food­court are priced 30 cents less than the white ver­sions, while less sug­ary drinks are 20 cents to 50 cents cheaper.


Khoo Teck Puat Hos­pi­tal staff nurse Liew Han Ming (in green) and other KTPH staff tak­ing part in a 2.4km run in a fit­ness chal­lenge ear­lier this month. Mr Liew says ex­er­cis­ing at his work­place helped him lose weight.

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