‘Vital to teach students healthy living in school’

PETALING JAYA: Health education should be instilled early as unhealthy lifestyles are often picked up during schooldays, say educationists.

Primary school teacher Patrisha Ann Selvaraj said educating students about healthy living from an early age is crucial to combating the health risks associated with unhealthy lifestyles and promoting long-term wellness.

“By prioritising health education, schools and universities can equip students with the knowledge and habits necessary to lead healthier lives.

“The prevalence of coffee shops and fast food restaurants near schools and universities contributes significantly to this issue, as these precise environments (when left unchecked) encourage unhealthy eating habits,” she said.

Additionally, the modern lifestyle of students, who often lack physical activity in their daily routine as well as lack an interest in sports, exacerbates the problem, she added.

Peter Paul, 21, a polytechnic student, said there is a lack of health education at his institution.

“Talks or events about healthy eating are rare and, if there are any, are often unengaging.

“I usually don’t attend any talks unless they are made compulsory for students,” he confessed, highlighting a gap in effective nutritional education within the campus environment.

“I rarely join any sports activities on campus due to assignments but I will go cycling during my leisure time,” he added.

Universiti Sains Malaysia student Shirra Weiringen candidly described her struggle with maintaining a healthy diet amid a busy lifestyle.

She acknowledged that her diet is dominated by protein and carbs, and admitted that she often indulges in snacks such as ice cream and popcorn when out with friends.

“I know I don’t drink enough plain water, I often consume sugary drinks and soya instead,” she admitted, noting that this habit contributed to weight gain and a feeling of constant fatigue.

Despite understanding the addictive nature of sugar and health risks such as heart attacks and diabetes, Weiringen finds it challenging to cut back.

“Sugar is very addictive and hard to stop,” she said, linking her fluctuating moods to her diet.

Another university student, Harpreet Kaur Sukhdev Singh, said drinking tea or coffee is part of her culture, and she had been doing this regularly since she was young.

“I usually start and end my day with coffee or tea, and have late-night snacks during exam weeks when I stay up all night,” she said.

Harpreet, however, monitors her sugar intake, given that she is not so active in sporting activities on campus.

She added that she is aware of the health risks of high sugar consumption such as obesity and diabetes, and had noticed changes in her energy levels and moods based on her diet.

“As for education, my university has a page called Sports Centre where information regarding healthy eating is posted,” she said.

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