PETALING JAYA: Addressing the issue of unhealthy children begins with educating parents, says Parents Action Group for Education (Page) chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.
In commenting on the issue of the prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and whether enough was being done to tackle the problem, Noor Azimah said both parents and the authorities needed to do more.
“First and foremost, we must educate the parents. The children have breakfast and dinner at home, and some even pack lunches for their children to eat in school.”
What was crucial, Noor Azimah said, was that all these meals were healthy, as healthy eating habits had to be developed at an early age.
“The question is whether the food prepared at home is healthy.”
Furthermore, she said parents must also lead by example and lead a healthy life.
“If the parents are couch potatoes and are not active, then it is not surprising if the kids become couch potatoes.”
On the role of schools, Azimah noted that canteen operators were already given a list of what they could and could not sell.
“If anything, it is the amount of oil in the food. So there is room for improvement.”
She said school canteen operators should opt for healthier cooking methods such as baking, steaming or boiling, rather than frying or deep frying.
Meanwhile, Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM) Lead Activist Nadzim Johan said the Health Ministry should ensure school canteens only serve healthy food and that junk food is not allowed to be sold outside of school compounds.
Nadzim also lamented that big food and beverage companies had too much freedom in advertising their products, and said that the government should monitor and control this.
“The government must also spend more on promoting knowledge on health. Once members of the public have knowledge, they will be more empowered to make informed decisions.”
Nadzim also said parents must do more to ensure the health and well-being of their children and that many parents were not taking the issue of health seriously enough.
“At the rate we are going, the country will be full of sick people.”
Earlier this week, FMT reported that kidney disease in the country was showing an upward trend, with the country recording more than 100% increase in new dialysis patients over the past decade.
More than 60% of those undergoing dialysis suffered from lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.