Parents: Address root cause of obesity


MEASURING pupils’ body mass indices (BMIs) may not be a good solution to tackle the issue of obesity and may also unnecessarily increase teachers’ workload, said Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin.

“What is the point of knowing whether pupils are overweight, obese and so on, if there are no long-term solutions to tackle this issue? Parents, canteen operators and school management have a role to play,” he said, adding that it’s important for parents to lead by example as many of them eat unhealthy food and drinks, such as fast food and carbonated drinks.

As a result, children tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Instead of measuring their BMIs, a better solution would be to allow pupils to engage in physical activities during recess, he suggested.

“Let them play and run around. There are many traditional games that require minimal equipment, like galah panjang, batu seremban and hide-and-seek.

“Unfortunately, parents and most school administrations are not in favour of such activities as they are worried pupils will injure themselves. This mindset must change if we want to cultivate a healthy society,” he said.What parents feed their children, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, could depend on the environment they live in.

Noor AzimahNoor Azimah

Low-income (B40) families fall either in the urban poor or rural categories, she explained, adding that the urban poor, not having a place to grow their own food, may feed their children whatever that is convenient and available such as processed food which may not necessarily constitute a healthy and balanced meal.

“Even local fruits are expensive for them. Families who live in a rural setting, on the other hand, may grow fruits and vegetables as they have ample land to do so.

“A nearby river may even provide a source of protein like fish. Hence, rural B40 families may be able to provide their children with a healthier and balanced diet compared to their urban counterparts,” she said.

And whether parents can provide their children with balanced meals, depends on their disposable income, she added. “They feed their children with what they can afford and what their children want to eat. It could be the school curriculum and teachers’ influence that end up shaping the pupils’ views on the importance of a balanced meal.

“This, in turn, could result in the children influencing their parents’ purchasing habits,” she said.

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