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Calorie display may be made mandatory for restaurants

Minister of Health YB Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Jaafar. – INFOFOTO

BY Azlan Othman

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) is planning to make it mandatory for restaurants in the country to display the calorie content of each food item served by them.

The ministry is mulling the initiative in a bid to curb the growing obesity, control the use of unhealthy food and help diners to make the right choice, said the Minister of Health YB Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Jaafar.

Responding to a demand made by YB Pengiran Haji Mohamed bin Pengiran Haji Osman @ Othman, a Legislative Council (LegCo) member, to introduce a system to monitor high sugar level at fast food outlets at the ongoing 14th LegCo session, the minister said his ministry wishes to further streamline its dissemination of information on healthy food choice to the public.

“If we are more aware about the danger of obesity, then the consumption of fast food would be less.

“We always conduct public engagement to enhance awareness on high sugar and fat content,” he said.

“The Healthy Restaurant Programme was established in 2014 to encourage people to choose healthier food.

“However, to date, only nine restaurants have taken part in it by employing nutritionists to identify which food contain more salt or sugar,” he added.

The minister said a cross-functional team comprising officials from the MoH, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Affairs has been established to reduce obesity among schoolchildren which among others has outlined guidelines on food intake.

Advertising of food sold at schools is monitored while plain water drinking is also promoted among students, he added.

A Body Mass Index (BMI) screening of Year 1 to Year 11 students and the ‘Be Fit for Life’ programme for students with excess weight were held last month, the minister said in response to a query by YB Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong, a LegCo member on the government’s efforts to create awareness on obesity among children.

The minister also welcomed the initiative of some restaurants to display the percentage of sugar in their menu as being done by a number of drink franchises in the country, responding to an issue raised by LegCo member, YB Haji Umarali bin Esung.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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