KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is encouraging eateries to display the calorie count of food items on their menu, allowing customers to make health-conscious decisions.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said many Malaysians did not realise how many calories they consumed every time they had a meal.
"One plate of mee goreng mamak and a glass of teh tarik, sounds like an average lunch but you will be shocked as to just how many calories they contain," he said at the launch of The Star's FitForLife 2015 fair yesterday.
"By displaying the calorie content, restaurateurs will be helping their customers make smarter decisions, while they themselves will be inspired to prepare healthier meals," he added.
On whether Malaysia could follow in the steps of some countries to introduce a legislation requiring restaurants to display the calorie count of each dish they served, Dr Subramaniam said this was possible.
"However, a feasibility study must be conducted first. I understand it will not be easy for restaurants too, because many items go into making one dish and it will be difficult to get a proper calorie count.
"At the moment, all packaged food items produced by companies must carry a label stating the calorie content, failing which they can be penalised under the law."
Dr Subramaniam noted that Malaysia had a "sick population" with at least 63 per cent of those aged 18 and above having at least one non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factor.
"NCDs such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels contribute to 73 per cent of total deaths in Malaysia," he said.
Asked about health insurance policies being subjected to the Goods and Services Tax, Dr Subramaniam said he had written to the Finance Ministry to review the matter.
FitForLife 2015, held for the fourth consecutive year, showcases the latest trends in fitness and healthy living, ranging from diet to nutrition, exercise, aesthetics and lifestyle enhancements.
Event partner Great Eastern Life is also hosting a Live Great dodgeball tournament and a Live Great street dance showdown at the fair.
Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai announced a new element to the fair - a Sports and Fitness zone.
"It will house fitness equipment and sports gear. We have also lined up activities for visitors, such as inline skating and NERF shootouts," he said.
This year's theme "Get Fit. Live Great" is to inspire Malaysians to live a healthy lifestyle and adopt a holistic approach that includes physical and mental fitness, financial health and general fitness.
FitForLife 2015 is held in Halls 1 to 3 of Mid Valley Exhibition Centre from 10am to 7pm. It ends today. Admission is free.