National Healthy Lifestyle Programme
The Ministry of Health launched the National Healthy Lifestyle Programme in 1992 to promote a healthy lifestyle among Singaporeans. It was officially inaugurated by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.1 The programme is focused on an annual, month-long campaign, the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The programme adopts a multipronged approach to create and foster a supportive environment for Singaporeans to practise healthy behaviour.2
The National Healthy Lifestyle Programme was instituted by the Ministry of Health to help improve the lifestyle of Singaporeans in terms of physical, social and mental well-being. Since its inception in 1992, the programme has organised a range of activities, events and awards to promote its cause. Its core activities are to promote healthy eating habits and regular exercise. It encourages people to quit smoking, provides help in stress management and emphasises the practice of healthy behaviour such as greater community interaction and avoidance of casual sex. The programme, which targets all age groups, also includes surveys and feedback to review the progress of its objectives.3
In 1996, a civic committee was set up to facilitate healthy activities among Singaporeans. The committee comprised citizens from various community organisations, professional groups, members of the media and private industry. The aims were to encourage greater community participation and facilitate better interaction and flow of ideas among the public to enhance the lifestyle of the Singapore society.4 In 1999, the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign introduced the Singapore HEALTH (Helping Employees Achieve Life-Time Health5) Award and ACTIVE (All Companies/Communities Together in Various Exercises) Day. On each ACTIVE Day, staff would exercise and learn the finer points of healthy living.6 The programme brings together private companies, unions and government departments to promote health awareness at the workplace.7 The purpose is to improve work efficiency in terms of saving on medical leave and improving staff performance through stress management.8
The activities held in conjunction with the National Healthy Lifestyle Programme differ every year, with new features added for each edition. Some of the events are: Great Singapore Workout, Mental Health Education Programme, National Smoking Control Campaign, AIDS Campaign,9 Family Run Run,10 Supermarket Programme,11 “Ask For” Programme,12 Restaurant Programme,13 Healthier Hawker Trail14 FunFITT,15 Healthier Dining Programme, Healthier Choice Symbol Programme,16 National Steps Challenge, Lose to Win, Sundays@The park,17 Workplace Health Promotion Programme18 and various health promoting programmes in education institutions to build a healthy student population.19 In addition, there are health assessments, talks, forums, various campaigns, education programmes, telematches and exhibitions.20 Over the years, the programme’s achievements have included teaching healthier cooking methods to hawker stall owners21 and restaurateurs,22 increasing awareness of health problems in women,23 as well as helping the public reduce obesity levels24 and quit smoking.25
In recent years, the focus has been on healthy ageing.26 The inaugural National Seniors’ Health Programme was launched in September 2015 with an exercise video for seniors.27 The following year, a food nutrition guide was introduced to seniors to help them understand the importance of good nutrition.28 The 7-Sit-Down Exercises was introduced in March 2017 for seniors aged 50 years and above, including those with reduced mobility. An exercise video is also available in four official languages to allow seniors and their family members to watch and participate in the exercises together.29
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Salma Khalik, “Panel to Promote Workplace Health,” Straits Times, 10 September 1999, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Lim Hng Kiang, “The Launch of National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign 2000 Cum the Singapore H.E.A.L.T.H Award 2000 Presentation Ceremony,” speech, Suntec City, 7 September 2000, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (From National Archives of Singapore document no. 2000090703)
3. Lim, “National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign.”
4. Allison Lim, “Healthy Lifestyle Drive to Be Civic Movement,” Straits Times, 18 October 1996, 40. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Singapore HEALTH Award,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 8 November 2016.
6. Lim, “National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign.”
7. “Health Message Goes to the Workplace,” Straits Times, 10 September 1999, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
8. “Healthy Lifestyle Campaign Targets Those between 30–49,” Straits Times, 24 August 1995, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “Health Campaigns Succeed in Raising Public Awareness: Survey,” Straits Times, 24 October 1994, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Ginnie Teo, “PM Goh to Kick Off Healthy Lifestyle Drive on Sunday,” Straits Times, 6 September 1994, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Two Plus Two Equals a Healthy Heart,” Straits Times, 25 August 2000, 50. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Patricia Woo, “Create the Demand for Healthier Food,” Today, 19 October 2004, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Two Plus Two Equals a Healthy Heart.”
14. Justine Moss, “Healthy Hawker Fare,” Today, 9 August 2003, 58. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Let’s Get FITT Together,” Straits Times, 6 September 2003, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Food & Beverage,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 9 December 2017.
17. “National Steps Challenge,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 13 August 2017.
18. Health Promotion Board, “Health Promotion Board and Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Ink MOU to Promote Workplace Health,” press release, 10 November 2011.
19. “Schools,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 13 August 2017; “School Programmes,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 13 August 2017.
20. Teo, “PM Goh to Kick Off Healthy Lifestyle Drive on Sunday.”
21. “More Greens, Less Oil and Salt, Please,” Straits Times, 22 August 1998, 34. (From NewspaperSG)
22. “Healthier Dining Programme,” Health Promotion Board, accessed 19 December 2017.
23. Health Promotion Board, “HPB Reviews and Refines Health Programmes for Women with Help from Newly Formed Women’s Health Advisory Committee,” press release, 16 September 2012, accessed 13 August 2017.
24. Health Promotion Board, “National healthy Lifestyle Campaign (NHLC) 2009,” press release, 10 September 2010.
25. Health Promotion Board, “A New Chapter for Tobacco Control in Singapore,” press release, 21 March 2012.
26. Health Promotion Board, “Active Seniors Aim for a Fulfilling and Healthy Life,” press release, 9 March 2011.
27. Health Promotion Board, “New Exercise Campaign to Encourage Active Living among Seniors, including Those with Reduced Mobility,” press release, 19 March 2011.
28. Health Promotion Board, “HPB Dishes Out ‘Recipe for Healthy Ageing’ to Guide Seniors towards Healthy Eating,” press release, 15 May 2016.
29. Health Promotion Board, “New Exercise Campaign to Encourage Active Living among Seniors.”
The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.