SINGAPORE - The habit of drinking water was inculcated in his children from a young age and, now that they are older, water is their top beverage choice even when they eat out.
Explaining his parenting practice, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said: "When I visit my relatives and friends, it always amazes them that my son likes to drink water."
Associate Professor Faishal's son is 12 years old while his daughter is 16.
He stressed how healthy lifestyle choices and the resulting positive long-term effects can help Singapore become a healthier nation.
He was speaking at the launch of the Health Promotion Board's (HPB's) Let's Drink Water Campaign, held at the My First Skool kindergarten in Yishun Street 61 yesterday.
As part of the campaign, HPB will work with schools to encourage children and youth to drink water instead of sugary beverages. This will be done by introducing water breaks between lessons in primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, for instance.
A 2009 HPB survey set off alarm bells when it revealed that almost half of Singapore teens aged 13 to 18 drank sugary drinks on a daily basis.
The HPB Students' Health Survey involved 5,000 students from secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institutes.
Mr Ang Hak Seng, HPB's chief executive, said: "Excessive consumption of sugar is associated with obesity, and obesity is a risk factor in Type 2 diabetes."
He added that, among teenage diabetics here, more than 50 per cent suffer from Type 2 diabetes. This is a marked increase from a decade ago, when only 10 per cent were afflicted by Type 2 diabetes.
HPB aims to reach out to 500 pre-schools by 2015, to ensure that children have water with every meal, for instance.
Pre-school pupil Health Ambassadors will be tasked to encourage their peers to drink water.
One such ambassador is six-year-old kindergarten pupil Nia Firzannah.
She said: "I remind my friends to drink water and to refill their water bottles."
Her mother, Madam Hannes Azman, 28, who is a childcare teacher, said: "During Hari Raya house visits last year, she would drink iced lemon tea, and even asked for more sometimes.
This year, she only sipped some sugary drinks before asking for water."
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