SUBANG JAYA: Effective immediately, the body mass index (BMI) of students will be listed on their report cards while unhealthy food and drinks are banned from school canteens.
The food or drinks in the “no-no” list include soft drinks and items with high sugar content.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who announced this yesterday, said this was a new move that would help parents monitor their children's health.
“By listing the BMI on their report cards, parents have the means to know whether their child's weight is ideal, overweight or obese,” he said after closing the Fifth Health Clinic Advisory Panel Convention.
Liow said parents could obtain advice from clinics on how to maintain a healthy weight for their children.
He said Malaysia was currently ranked sixth amongst Asian countries and first in South-East Asia for a high percentage of obese citizens.
“Thirty per cent of Malaysians are overweight, while another 30% are obese. That's 60%,” he said, adding that ministry data estimated that around 1.7 million Malaysians aged 18 and above were obese.
Liow said the move to list BMI on report cards had been decided at the Cabinet Committee on Non-Communicable Diseases meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on April 4.
“We have identified unhealthy canteen food such as soft drinks and others with high sugar content. These types of food are now banned from being sold,” he said.
He also advised hawkers not to sell them outside school grounds, adding that diabetes was a serious problem in Malaysia.
“Younger people are getting diabetes. Our data recorded in 2006 shows that 15% of the population above 30 years old have diabetes,” he said.
In a bid to fight this trend, Liow said the ministry was holding activities to curb more cases of diabetes, including programmes on exercise and healthy eating habits.
He said the “Less Sugar Intake” 2010 campaign would continue this year, adding that around 1.5 million adult Malaysians suffered from diabetes while another 4.8 million had hypertension.
Teachers and parents lauded the move, saying it was beneficial for children.
SJKT Ladang Highlands headmaster S. Arumugam said students, who were still in the developmental stage of their physical growth, needed proper nutritious food.
SMK Taman Desa Jaya Parent-Teacher Association member and Bahasa Malaysia teacher Mariam Mohamad said this would help students have a nutritious meal as many did not have breakfast at home.