British Columbia minister ‘walks’ in villages to promote healthy living

British Columbia Finance Minister Michael de Jong is currently in India to take part in a walk in Punjab villages to spread awareness about health problems like diabetes and hypertension.

Jong, who had planned the walk about nine months ago — when he held the health portfolio in British Columbia province of Canada — was in Hoshiarpur on in Monday. While on Wednesday, he visited Jalandhar, he will go to Nawanshahr district on Thursday. He has been telling people to shun junk food and adopt a healthy lifestyle if they were to fight diabetes, obesity and chronic diseases.

Maintaining that he chose Punjab because there is high incidence of diabetes cases in British Columbia, which is house to a large number of Punjabis, Jong told mediapersons on Wednesday: "Every fourth Punjabi is a diabetic in British Columbia, which has made me come here to create awareness. By changing the outlook of the people towards their lifestyle, we can create a huge difference and this was what we are doing here."

"Moreover, this time of the year, a large number of NRIs come to Punjab. So, I decided to visit the state now, he added.

On December 4, security concerns had reportedly derailed Jong's plans to walk on Punjab roads to spread awareness about health problems. Jong had said he had been told by Indian government not to go on such an exercise, but was not offered any reasons for it.

Avtar Gill, a person accompanying him, however, had said that security concerns were behind the incident. "He was supposed to walk from Golden Temple to the outskirts. Some stretches had also been finalised where he would walk spreading awareness about diabetes and hypertension, as these are common among Punjabis living here and in Canada," Canada resident Gill said.

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