Newsletter No. 129

Symposium Examines Causes, Prevention, and Treatment for Osteoporosis O ver 300 representatives from the medical and health sector, the academic sector, and other relevant sectors in the community participated in a symposium organized by the University's Osteoporosis Research Programme on 2nd May. Entitled 'Osteoporosis: from Childhood to Old Age', the event is part of the University's 35th anniversary celebration programme. The symposium was opened by Prof. Joseph Lee, dean of medicine. Members of the research programme, including Profs. Jack Cheng, Suzanne Ho, Christopher Haines, Edith Lau, Jean Woo, and Leung Ping-chung, presented recent research findings of osteoporosis in Hong Kong. The keynote speaker was Prof. Steve Cummings, professor of internal medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco, and principal investigator of the two largest studies on osteoporosis to date. He described several new genetic and aetiological models for osteoporosis, and concluded that the future of osteoporosis research is in Asia, where there is great potential for conducting epidemiological studies of significance and multi-centre trials. The term 'osteoporosis' was coined by the French in the 1820s to describe a 'pathological state of the bone'. Osteoporosis has been found in women of the early Bronze Age and in a X I I th Dynasty female skeleton from Lisht, Upper Egypt. The condition has become more prominent with industrialization, reaching epidemic proportions in recent decades. Among Hong Kong Chinese, both genetics and lifestyle contribute to osteoporosis. The maintenance of an adequate calcium intake and physical activity from childhood are believed to be very important for building stronger bones. Menopause is a critical phase of life for bone loss; hormonal replacement therapy is often recommended for subjects at high risk of fractures. Conference on Child and Youth Mental Health Young Girls Too Obsessed with Body Image Y oung Chinese girls in Hong Kong are becoming obsessed with being thinner at an early age. A study by the Department of Psychology revealed that the majority of preadolescent girls in Hong Kong are not satisfied with their bodies and many have begun to experiment with various forms of weight control behaviour even before they reach puberty. The study surveyed 1,944 girls aged 9 to 14 on their views of their body and their weight control behaviours. Highlights of the results showed that close to 60 per cent were afraid of becoming fat while half wanted to be thinner and close to 40 per cent felt the need to lose weight. For weight control behaviours, over 20 per cent had experimented with dieting while about 10 per cent watched what they ate carefully and 1 per cent practised fasting. Extreme weight control behaviours, however, were relatively rare. About 0.1 per cent reported self-induced vomiting, 0.1 used diet pills, and 0.07 used laxatives. The study was one of the 240 presentations by scholars and specialists from 36 countries at the First International Conference on Child and Adolescent Mental Health held at Sino Building on the Chung Chi campus from 2nd to 6th June. Sponsored by the Department of Psychology and Chung Chi College as part of the 35th anniversary celebration programme of the University, the conference was a systematic examination of the latest thinking and practices in service delivery in adolescent and preadolescent mental health. Topics covered at the conference included depression and suicidal behaviour, gender stereotypes and self-concept of Hong Kong youth, and measurements of satisfaction with life and their relations to mental health in Chinese adolescents. Officiating at the opening ceremony on 2nd June was Dr. E.K. Yeoh, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. Another Milestone in Laparoscopic Surgery D octors in the Department of Surgery have just performed the world's first primary single-stage endorectal pullthrough for total colonic aganglionosis on a 12-day-old baby boy. Total colonic aganglionosis is a congenital condition in which the whole length of the large bowel lacks normal nerve cells and normal bowel movement, thereby resulting in fatal bowel obstruction in the newborn period. Traditionally this condition is managed in three stages: the creation of a stoma near the end of ileum to divert the faeces at the newborn period, followed by excision of the abnormal aganglionic large bowel and pullthrough of normal, ganglionic bowel down to the anus around one year of age, and then closure of the stoma. With laparoscopic surgery, the need for a stoma is eliminated. It is less time-consuming than staged surgery, allowing normal passage of faeces through the anus sooner. And it does not leave multiple surgical scars on the baby. The success of the operation is thus a milestone in laparoscopic surgery — not only will it change the treatment of the illness completely, but it also points the way to treatments other than open surgery for a number of illnesses among newborns. The department's staff and the parents of the baby shared their experiences of the operation with the public in a press conference held on 27th May at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The speakers included Profs. Joseph C.K. Lee, Joseph W.Y. Lau, Fok Tai-fai, Sydney S.C. Chung, and Yeung Chung- kwong. The use of laparoscopic surgery in young children, particularly small infants, has been limited due to technical difficulties. With the availability of new, miniaturized laparoscopic instruments and the improvement of surgical techniques, the Department of Surgery has achieved many laparoscopic operations in young children over the last few years. In fact most paediatric surgical operations that were performed by the open method can now be safely performed with an endoscopic approach. Unsightly scars on the abdomen after conventional open surgery Support for Three Research Projects T he following three research projects undertaken by staff of the University have recently attracted local funding support: • Radar Remote Sensing: Advanced Earth Observatory System for the 21st Century Sponsor. The Croucher Foundation (HK$660,000) Researcher. Prof. Lin Hui • Test Battery for the Motor Skills of Squash: Implications for Assessing and Coaching Sponsor. Hong Kong Sports Development Board (HK$96,800) Researchers: Mr. Chan Wan-ka, Prof. Hong Youlian • Biomechanical Analysis of Taekwondo Kicking Technique, Performance, and Training Effects Sponsor. Hong Kong Sports Development Board (HK$100,000) Researchers: Prof. Hong Youlian, Mr. Luk Tze-chung