92% don't take fruit and greens with meals

PHOTO: 92% don't take fruit and greens with meals

[Above: Malaysia's Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (centre) with samples of healthy food at a meeting with representatives from the food manufacturing industry in Putrajaya yesterday. With him are health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman (left) and Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers food production division chairman Mohd Shah Hashim.]

PUTRAJAYA - The vast majority of Malaysians - 92 per cent - do not eat fruits and vegetables, increasing the risk of contracting non-communicable diseases (NCD), according to research by the Health Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said according to the World Health Organisation, one had to consume two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily.

"The number of overweight and obese Malaysians has gone up three-fold, which is worrying ," he said after a closed-door meeting with representatives from the food manufacturing industry yesterday.

Liow said unhealthy eating habits had caused an increase in obesity and chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and cancer ) over the years. He said every other Malaysian was either overweight or obese, one in five had diabetes and one in three had hypertension or high cholesterol.

In yesterday's meeting, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and 34 food manufacturing companies pledged their support to produce healthier food and drinks that were low in sugar, salt and fat.

"We urge food manufacturers to produce healthier and nutritious food to assist the ministry in combating NCD," Liow said.

"The public should also be aware and reduce these ingredients (sugar, salt and fat) in their food." He said guidelines on food product advertising and marketing would be introduced next year.

"Food manufacturers should be more responsible when advertising and marketing their products. This will be on a self-regulatory basis, with companies obliged to carry it out as part of their corporate social responsibility."

He said the guidelines would also affect imported food items.

On another matter, Liow said the ministry would not compromise on the ban on sale of recycled cooking oil.

"Anyone with proof should report it to us."