‘Educate children about risk of junk food’

National 2 minutes, 10 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A SENIOR education official at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) urges parents and teachers to educate children about the implications of eating junk food and the risk factors of chronic diseases.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, Dr Nik Ani Afiqah Hj Mohamad Tuah, a lecturer at UBD’s Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSB IHS), said while children are more knowledgeable of what is touted to be healthy and unhealthy food, many are still unaware of the serious damage junk food can do to their health.

“It’s never too early to teach children as young as eight or nine about the implications of a bad diet. The earlier they know about chronic diseases like cancer and stroke, the more cautious they will be in making food decisions,” she said.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health (MoH), 772 people died from chronic diseases in 2014.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) or chronic diseases accounted for 52.5 per cent of 1,470 total deaths in 2014.

Dr Nik said while NCDs are often associated with older age groups, children are no exception when it comes to facing the increasing NCD burden such as obesity.

Evidence showed that 16 million of all deaths attributed to NCDs occur before the age of 70, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Early intervention is vital. We need to educate our children from young so they know and become more aware that a junk food-laden diet could potentially shorten their life,” she said.

“It really is about being mindful of what you eat, and about how much you value your life. It’s about making smart choices,” said the UBD lecturer, adding that instead of telling them that junk food are bad, teachers should show and tell them why it is bad.

The UBD lecturer said while easy access to fastfood and junk food are to be blamed for a child’s unhealthy diet, it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure children eat nutritious meals in and outside of home.

“Children’s consumption of fast food is only a small part (of the problem). Children eat what their parents eat so it’s important for parents to set a good example too,” she said.

A study was previously done on two schools in the Brunei-Muara district where children were found to consume instant noodles rich in sodium as often as three to four times a week.

“When parents rely on high amounts of processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages, it will take a toll on not only their lifestyle but also their children’s,” she said.

The Brunei Times