Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 24, 2007

Fomca Calls On Health Ministry To Place Dieticians At Schools

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:06 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 (Bernama) — The Federation of Malaysian Consumers’ Associations (Fomca) Friday called on the Health Ministry to consider placing dieticians at schools to teach children about nutrition.
Its president, Marimuthu Nadason, said that in the wake of the ministry’s proposal to ban fastfood advertisements in the electronic and print media, it should also think about having dieticians going around the schools, especially to ensure that healthy and nutritional food is served in the canteens.
He reasoned that this is because children are the most susceptible to fastfood advertisements, and one of the keys to overcoming the problem is educating them and creating awareness in them.
Commenting on the issue surrounding fastfood, which has been deemed unhealthy and the cause of many health hazards, Marimuthu said that despite the efforts to control the advertisements, a lot still depends on the customers themselves.
“In fact, it is not only fastfood that is bad, some items sold by hawkers can be too. The thing is we cannot suddenly become health-conscious people overnight. It comes with individual habits,” he told Bernama.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin, when contacted, said the move to control fastfood advertisements should not be seen as banning fastfoods.
“We are only talking about the advertisements as they have influence on the young. We are not banning fastfood,” he said.
“We are also not saying that all fastfood items are bad. We can pick and choose, like salads for instance, but most fastfoods are still high in fat and lacking in nutritional value,” he added.
Commenting on Marimuthu’s suggestion, Teoh said it would be a very good effort to send dieticians to promote nutrition in schools as such a move has been adopted by other countries.
“The famous Jamie Oliver (celebrity chef) of the Naked Chef series has done something like that in British schools,” he said, adding that there is no reason why it could not be implemented here.
Meanwhile, Council Chairman of The Academy of Family Physicians in Malaysia Datuk Assoc. Prof D.M. Thuraiappah said that placing dieticians in schools is one way of curbing the fastfood trend, but related enforcement bodies should also control the quality of food served in schools, such as the amount of sugar content.
Thuraiappah, who is also a council member of the World Organisation of Family Doctors, explained that while most foods sold in shops and supermarkets are labelled, the same cannot be said about those in school canteens.
“We should have a regulation on that. It is also good if they could do random checks at the canteens,” he added.
As for whether the banning of fastfood advertisements will stop the children from consuming them, Thuraiappah simply said: “Less advertisement means less motivation for them to eat fastfood.”
He also gave an example that even though cigarette companies could no longer advertise on television and in the newspapers, they are still allowed to advertise at sporting tournaments and also in various food and drinks outlets.

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