MoH studies show rising teen obesity

His Majesty inspecting the quality of food sold at a school canteen during a surprise visit last year. Picture: BT file

OBESITY has risen among secondary school students in Brunei over the last five years, a health committee meeting was informed yesterday.

"Statistics have shown in 2010, about 14.8 per cent of students studying in Year One, Four, Six and Eight were found to be overweight and about 15.5 per cent were categorised as being obese," read a statement from the Ministry of Health (MoH), which based its figures on findings, surveys and several studies it conducted from 2005 to 2010.

This information was made available to The Brunei Times in a statement made by the ministry yesterday as the National Committee on Health Promotion held a close-door meeting attended by its royal patron His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul 'Azim.

The meeting was also informed of research and trends that suggest obesity and taking up early smoking habits will continue to dominate until adulthood.

Participants of the meeting tackled the need to strengthen the awareness on the importance of healthy foods served in school canteens.

Since its launch in November 2009, the committee has suggested strict adherence to MoH's new guidebook on approved food and drinks for schools canteens.

"Emphasis on the health risks of unhealthy foods such as those that are fatty or fried and sweet-flavoured drinks also need to be highlighted in the school curriculum to raise awareness especially amongst students," the statement read.

Collaborating with school canteen vendors was also an important factor in tackling issues pertaining to the serving of healthy foods to students.

Raising vendor's understanding on the importance of selling healthy foods is crucial, it said.

"Although the committee realises that the steps taken to promote healthy foods in school canteens will take time, the appropriate steps need to be addressed by all agencies including parents and teachers," it read.

Surprise spot checks should also be conducted by school principals and teachers so they can monitor what kind of food is sold to the students.

"The committee also sees the need for a law to be drafted in regards to the sale of healthy foods such as those that exist in other countries," it said.The Brunei Times

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