Materia Medica Malaysiana

June 23, 2007

Fast Food Ads On Children’s TV Programmes Banned

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:58 am

SHAH ALAM, June 22 (Bernama) — The Cabinet has decided to ban fast food commercials on children’s television programmes, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said fast food companies would also be banned from sponsoring such programmes.
“The decision was made because the Cabinet feels it is its responsibility to see that children below 12 years of age are instilled with good eating habits,” he added after launching the national-level World Health Day 2007 celebration here Friday.
“Besides that, Malaysia has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates that children have the right to nutritious food.”
Asked when the decision would be enforced, Dr Chua said his officers would first discuss the matter with the Information and Energy, Water and Communications ministries as some of the fast food companies might have already signed contracts with the television stations.
He said the ban was not a biased decision as many of the fast food companies were multinationals, while the government was focusing only on those companies that aggressively promoted fast food via the electronic media.
Chua said the ban did not apply to the print media as the Cabinet felt that children under 12 preferred to watch television than read the newspapers.
He said many countries like India, China, Norway and Sweden had also banned fast food advertisements on television.
He added that the ban was also imposed because many non-contagious but chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems were related to poor eating habits.
“As such, parents are urged to cooperate by educating their children on the importance of a balanced diet which includes complex carbohydrate, more fruits and vegetables and less fat and sugar.”
He hoped that fast food companies would engage in self-monitoring of its food products to help promote a healthly lifestyle.
Dr Chua said to enable consumers to know the calorie content of fast food, the Cabinet also decided to make it compulsory for the producers to provide information on the protein, fat, sugar and carbohydrate content of their food for sale, on the wrappers, boxes or labels.
“This is another education process to help the public choose their food wisely and the amount they should consume.”
He said his ministry could not determine when the ruling could be enforced but fast food companies would be given a suitable time-frame to comply.
He also gave the defintion of fast food which became polemic recently: “It is food prepared in large quantities using a standard procedure and served at restaurants, and promoted through advertisements over television and in the print media.
“This definition is important so as not to be confused with roti canai, teh tarik, fried mee or mee rebus which are not categorised as fast food and available at eateries which do not advertise their food.”
He said both decisions were reached at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

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