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Tuesday April 19, 2011

‘Local authorities can help stop access to hawker food’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will get the help of local authorities to weed out hawkers who sell junk food near schools.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this was part of a move to fight obesity, a cause of numerous non-communicable diseases.

“Therefore, we need to ensure that students will not have access to junk food,” he told reporters after launching the OR1 high definition fully integrated operating theatres at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre here yesterday.

He said a special committee, comprising officials from the Health Ministry and Education Ministry, would draft a list of food that was permitted to be sold at school canteens.

“Previously, we had a list of food that was not allowed. The new list will be even more specific,” he added.

Liow said parents need not worry. “The food will be balanced and nutritional but will not be more expensive.”

Asked if vending machines would be allowed in schools, Liow said: “As long as they sell healthy food and not junk or carbonated drinks.”

On students with high body mass index (BMI), he said, they would be referred to government clinics and be given counselling on healthy living.

On Sunday, Liow said students’ BMI would be listed on their report cards while unhealthy food and drinks would be banned from school canteens with immediate effect.

He said the move would help parents monitor their children’s health.

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