No King Kongs in Hong Kong

If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, one question that will pop to mind after you land and hours after you stare at all the residents there is this: “How come there are no fat people here!?”

It’s true. In Hong Kong, their people are lean, slim, slender, svelte, sexy; they possess flat stomachs, 30-inch waistlines, and are nowhere near the obesity nightmare in the United States.

How bad is obesity in America? About 31 percent (or 59 million) are obese—which is defined as roughly 30 or more lbs. over a healthy weight. And—here’s the more shocking figure—almost 65 percent of Americans are either obese or overweight… defined as 10 to 30 lbs. over a healthy weight.

Hong Kong? Is there a statistic for under-weight?

Last week, for four days, I was in Hong Kong. I observed. I gazed at our Chinese neighbors. And here’s my conclusion: Hong Kong residents don’t walk. They never do. They run. They sprint. They rush from Point A to Point F to Point Q. The men? They walk faster than a robot being chased by a Doberman. The women? They clip their bags on their hips, press Start, and zoom!

Hong Kong residents, I just discovered, are lifelong competitors in this event called “Walkathon.”

Ever heard of a walkathon? It’s a race where the contestants sprint to the finish line as fast as they can—without running. (Running is defined as “a gait in which at some point both feet off the ground at the same time.”) But here’s the interesting part: In HK, they walk faster than other people run!

That’s Hong Kong.

You see, apart from those 83 years old and older, everyone in Hong Kong is in a rush. They own Type-A personalities. While heading down the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), they jog. Their legs don’t move one meter per two seconds—they travel three meters per second. And wasn’t there a study that concluded that the world’s fastest walkers are from Hong Kong? Yes. That’s true.

Here’s another conclusion: Hong Kong residents don’t mind walking. They don’t complain about traveling—by foot—for far, far distances. For them that’s normal.

Us? Here in Cebu? In the Philippines? If the jeepney driver stops 23 feet away from where we knocked or said “Para,” we complain. We grimace at the driver. In a way, we’re spoiled. Okay, okay. You might say, “But we don’t have sidewalks. So where do we walk?”

True. Valid point. Apart from Osmena Blvd. and a few other major roadways, we don’t have sidewalks. Ever passed by USC Talamban? On a rainy day? It’s a wet and ugly sight. You see students tip-toeing, their shoes and socks and pants submerged one foot beneath the water. So it’s true: We don’t have sidewalks. So we don’t walk.

But back to Hong Kong, they have sidewalks and so they walk, walk, walk. Or, they run, run, run.

Here’s an example. This Sunday, July 28, I’m joining the USC Fun Run to compete in their 10K race. And so I planned to bring my New Balance running shoes and step on the Hong Kong hotel’s treadmill to prepare.

But, guess what? I forgot to pack my shoes! I only brought my brown sneakers. At our Cebu airport, I berated myself. How can you prepare? How can you forget the shoes?

It turns out, I didn’t need my running shoes. Following the pace of our Hong Kong neighbors, I walked. I brisk-walked. I ran. I sprinted.

So here’s my point: You want to lose weight? You want to be lean, slim, slender, svelte, and sexy?

Move to Hong Kong.

Or, the cheaper move……. walk.

Take the stairs. Hike for a few rounds inside SM or Ayala before heading to your destination. And, when you ride the jeepney and the driver drops you off 23 feet away, pay him P10. Thank him for the extra walk.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. John, is this your secret why you, Jasmin and Jana look slim and gorgeous in your family picture?

  2. I’m an exercise fanatic and have high regards to people like you who, not only understand the value of exercising, but also does it regularly. It should be a daily regimen for everyone. It is one of the best ways to stay trim, healthy, and live longer.

  3. John, i just want to add that ppl in HK stay up late walking and shopping. dey start d day late but sleep late too. lunch s normally @2pm already. they eat as much as they walk/run so it all balances out. cool! City of Life gyud

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