The move to ban sugary drinks on campus grounds at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has prompted proponents of good health to ask when Malaysia will do the same.
Last year, in an attempt to break sugar addiction at its campus, UCSF removed all sugar-sweetened beverages from every store, food truck and vending machine on its grounds.
It even requested fast-food chains on campus to stop selling these beverages.
Consumer Association of Penang officer Uma Ramaswamy and health expert Dr H Krishna Kumar feel it is time for the government to emulate this initiative, especially considering the high obesity rates and number of people suffering from diabetes.
“We’ve been asking for a soda ban from the health and education ministries for years, and though they say they encourage and support us, there has been no real move towards this,” said Uma.
She said the ban on soda drinks should be extended to primary schools and hospitals.
Krishna Kumar, the chairman of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Representative Committee and a former president of the Malaysian Medical Association, agreed that the sugar habit needed to be broken at an early age.
“Obesity is increasing at a phenomenal rate and we’re already having childhood obesity,” he said.
He said this was happening because Malaysians had switched from eating traditional foods, which often contained much nutrition and fibre, to eating fast foods which were high in carbohydrates and sugar.
“Instead of eating fruits, we are drinking sugary fruit juice. Jamie Oliver has come out with a programme that has taught people to move away from processed and junk foods, and to start cooking the traditional way.”
He was referring to celebrity chef and food activist James Trevor Oliver who has been a huge advocate of healthy eating, especially among children.
Earlier this year, Al Jazeera quoted Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam as saying that almost 18 per cent of the country, or more than five million people, could be classed as obese while a further 30 per cent were overweight.
In 2014, The Star reported that Malaysia’s obesity rate was the highest in Asia. It quoted British medical journal, The Lancet, as stating that 49 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men in the country were found to be obese.
Source : Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar and Adam Abu Bakar@FMT Online