The recent announcement by the Health Ministry on limiting the frequency of nasi lemak being sold in school canteens to twice a week has caused much uproar in the mass media. Nasi lemak along with other fat laden food has to take the blame on the increasing number of obese students these days. Actually the Education Ministry has come out with guide lines what should be and should not be sold in the school canteen many years ago. The guidelines has been there for ages. It was the backbone of any school canteen contract. It baffled me why suddenly the Health Ministry is coming out with Guide Lines. Another Guide Lines?
There are a lot of factors contributing to the increasing weight and waistlines of our youngsters and nasi lemak is definitely not the main culprit. You may be able to control what is being sold in schools but outside the school gate it is anybody’s business. If you go to any school I am sure you’ll see an assortments of all sorts of people selling all sorts of things, mostly unhealthy stuffs.The responsibility lies in the hands of the local authorities to control these little entrepreneurs. I remember one Principal had to write to Biro Pengaduan Awam to rid of her school of this “menace’ since her complaints to the local authority went unheeded.It is a question of “periuk nasi”. These stall holders claims that they had to eke out a living. They had to to sell things that are popular with the children to make money.
Lack of physical activities is also a contributing factor. In the old days we walked to schools or we cycled. These days we ferry them to schools in the comfort of our cars or hired vans or we provide them with motor bikes. We pamper our children so much and yet we are complaining about them being obese. One letter in the Sunday Times today had one father complaining that his child had to climb 20-flight staircase carrying heavy textbooks everyday. Hello, dad, can’t you see that taking the stairs is the simplest form of exercise to keep your child fit. The child maybe huffing and puffing but in the long run it is good for him. I am surprised that NST published this sort of letter in the first place.
It is all about balance. If you eat nasi lemak, you must eat less fatty food later in the day and put on lot of exercise to burn the calories. That is the view of the National Heart Institute Chief Dietitian. After all these years most of us live on Nasi Lemak suddenly we say it the bad guy. It is the junk food, fast food, heavily sugared carbonated drinks and lack of exercise that transformed our children (and us) into fatsos.
Please spare the the national heritage food the indignity of being solely blamed for the cause of obesity in our children. Lets hope our 1 murid 1 sukan policy would change things in the near future. In the meantime, please do not complain if our children are being made to take the stairs or being made to run the perimeter of the school fields. If the school is less than a kilometre away, please let them walk to schools. It will be good for them. Spare the Nasi Lemak please.