MALNOURISHMENT continues to plague young Malaysians but while the problem is serious, it is prevalent globally.
We are not the only country battling the issue, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (pic) said.
“Lack of proper nutrition is caused by not having enough to eat or eating enough of the right things.
“Hence, there is dire need to make real changes to promote healthy living and (better) food choices to reduce vulnerability to malnutrition.
“Children should be taught from young to select food that is low in sugar and saturated fat, ” he said when launching a virtual donation presentation ceremony from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Graduate School of Business (UKM-GSB) to SK Sungai Manggis, Banting, on Wednesday.
He added that some 25% of children in Malaysia are either underweight or stunted because of poor dietary habits while another 20% are overweight or obese due to inappropriate dietary choices, their low-income background, difficulty in obtaining food, or various physical and mental health issues.
“We can safely say that children remain the most vulnerable to malnutrition during their formative years, ” he said, adding that malnutrition can affect academic performance and lead to a host of health problems including poor growth and development and poor immunity and tissue development.
“Also, the lack of food and nutrition have been linked to long-term economic effects such as higher healthcare expenditure, lower educational achievement, loss of productivity, lower earnings, and increased risk of poverty in life, ” he said, stressing that malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem which has to be tackled together.
He also thanked UKM-GSB for raising funds and awareness about healthy eating among the staff and pupils of SK Sungai Manggis through its “Hidden Hunger” project.
The project has raised RM10,000 in donations from corporates that will be channelled towards providing free nutritious meals to the pupils of the school.
Mah said the graduate students had also educated parents and guardians on how easy and cheap it can be to prepare nutritious meals for their families.
“This is a crucial move given that the Covid-19 pandemic has directly impacted the finances and livelihoods of families across the world, particularly those from the low-income group.”