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: A very good morning and welcome to Health Fair

forum conducted by Johor Health Department. I am
Devaki Subramaniam will be the host for this wonderful
forum. Today we are here to discuss the issue about
childhood obesity here in Malaysia. It is one of the
biggest health problems facing by the children
nowadays. We hope this forum will be your source of
good information about your health. We have assembled
here with our panels to share information. According to
our Health Minister, Mr. Liow Tiong Lai,
1.7 million Malaysians below the age of 18 were obese
and this put Malaysia sixth in the obesity rankings for
Asia. What we are going to do to overcome the obesity
problem? For our forum today, we have with us Dr.
Noreha bt Badron M.D..,M.P.H. pediatrician from
children Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, chef of children and
family service, Johor school district Mr. Wickneswaran
and last but not least Mr. Murugayah from Kuala
Lumpur Health Department. Thanks for coming.


: So Doctor Noreha, what is the factors cause childhood


Doctor Noreha

: The main factor which causes childhood obesity is food.

Pupils take too much of unhealthy food.
Most of the children will not have the time to take
a good breakfast at home. The children have to take
their breakfast in the school canteen that sells nasi

lemak and noodles. We made our children to eat the

wrong food or breakfast at the school canteen,
because they have to go to school very early in the

: What is a good breakfast actually?

Doctor Noreha

: A good breakfast is to have fruits or fruits juice such as

apples, bananas, oranges or papayas as our main drink
in the early morning. Fruit juices will clean and
nourish our body. It helps to stabilize the acidic and
alkaline balance in our body. We should have foods that
contain protein such as half boiled eggs, bakes beans,
roasted chicken, lamb or beef. We should have foods
that contain fibers such as cereals, oats, and corn flakes
with milk. We can have toasted brown bread spread with
honey or fruit jam. On addition to that we may have a
cup of green tea with no honey.

Mr. Wicky

: Yes Doctor I agree with you. We Malaysian are actually

taking wrong breakfast. Nowadays we need to do our
things as quickly as we could and everything we have to
do as fast as possible. We ignore our breakfast because
we have to be early at work which starts at 7.30am or
we wake up very late in the morning and we have no
time for breakfast. Because of this both parents and
children are having their breakfast at the school and
office canteen. What do they eat at the canteen?
Whatever is available at the canteen, nasi lemak and
noodles and tea tarik and hot coffee for a drink? Very
few Malaysians are having breakfast at home and if they
do they will eat either nasi lemak, noodles or fried food
with onions and ikan bilis. We have to admit that most
Malaysians are not having good food for their breakfast
and eating the wrong food for their breakfast at the
school and office canteen is one of the major reasons

why we are not very productive either at schools or in

the offices.
Mr. Murugayah

: In my opinion obesity is also caused by wrong lifestyle.

Wrong lifestyles are caused by our wrong belief and
mental outlook. When we have wrong belief and mental
outlook, we will have wrong lifestyles. Because of
wrong lifestyles we have both emotional and physical
stress. Stress causes us to take more carbohydrate and
sugar in our diets. With foods that contain more
carbohydrates and sugar we tend to be calmer. School
children who are experiencing stress will like to eat
more foods that contain sugar and carbohydrate such
as ice cream, chocolates, nasi lemak and carbonated
drinks. When we take foods that contain more sugar
and carbohydrate such as nasi lemak at one time, the
body will produce more insulin at a time. The greater
amount of insulin produce will causes the extra sugar in
the body to be quickly converted into glucose and
stored in the body and because of this less or no sugar
can be taken to the brain. When our brain do not
receives sufficient amount of sugar, we tend to be
sleepy and loose our concentration. It is true that it is
not good for our children to take foods that contain
plenty of sugar or carbohydrate for their breakfast. It is
very important for our children to take breakfast in the
early morning before they go to schools.


: Doctor do you think the parents are aware of the obesity


Doctor Noreha :From my point of view , I get to know that the parents are
not clear on What they have to do. There are no behavior
changes , taking nasi lemak as their breakfast and taking
a large amount of sugary and carbonated drinks almost
every day. On the other hand working parents are

offering outside food which contains more unhealthy

ingredients for their children.
Mr. Murugayah : Yes I agree with you. Some parents even award fast food
for their children success. Actually home is the best place
to start promoting a healthier environment for children.
Parents should expose their children with healthy food by
feeding them more vegetables and fruits.
Mr. Wicky

: How is it possible sir, if the parents themselves not

eating vegetables and fruits. Parents are their model,
the children will imitate whatever their parents do so, if
they saw their father and mother eating more
vegetables and fruits most likely the child will follow
their footsteps. For them their parents are their hero.

Doctor Noreha

: There is another important point that I would like to add

on, parents should involve their children in planning and
preparing healthy meals. Take them to market and
grocery shopping so that they will learn how to make
healthy food choices. Besides that, ask them to help
while preparing food like washing and cutting the
vegetables and fruits.


: Yes doctor food is the main reason for obesity especially

junk food. Many of the junk food have a high content of
sugar, salt and fat as well as artificial flavoring and the
dangers of children relying on junk food may cause low
nutritional value, major concern have been raised about
the health of an entire generation. Mr. Wicky can you tell
us why the children are so keen with the junk food?

Mr. Wicky

: It is undeniable, the children love junk food.

Advertisers and manufactures of junk food, face the
most criticism for their marketing plays, such as including
toys with products or placing advertisements during
childrens television programmers. Advertising of food

high in fat, sugar and salt has a direct effect on children

wanting and eating these unhealthy foods which lead to
obesity. From a survey , by advertising fatty and sugary
food they earn RM 100 million ringgit per year and
consumer associations have repeatedly called for ban in
junk food promotion.
Mr. Murugayah

: Here I would like to share about the survey we had done

recently with primary school children about healthy diet.
A boy name Saiful said pizza is my favorite, If my
mother makes dinner, I dont like it so, I just order a
delivery to my house There is a girl who says I usually
skip breakfast because I dont have the appetite for
anything early in the morning so Ill just grab some
candy bars to munch if I feel hunger before recess
These show how they love unhealthy food.

Mr. Murugayah

: Parents should set some guidelines for the time

spent by the children for sedentary activities such as
watching television and playing computer or video
games with junk food in their hands. They will forget
about sweat but only air-cond condition with junk food
on the table. These will lead them to overweight and


: Well that was a good one. As parents, we should play

important role in feeding the children and educate them
with healthy food. Maintaining healthy way has a lot to
do with food and also the right amount of exercises. Are
they getting enough exercise in school and at home?

Mr. Wicky

: From my opinion children now spend less time being

physically active during school as well as at home.
There has been an immense change over the years in
childrens entertainment from physical or outdoor

activities to indoor video games and television. To

further compound this problem, there are not many safe
or conducive places to play or be active outdoors,
especially in urban areas. To curb obesity among
children, the entire family must lead an active lifestyle I
would recommend that parents should exercise with
their children daily. Plan for family activities such as
cycling, walking, jogging or just washing the car can
keep your children active.

: Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise causes life

threatening disease too. Doctor What are the health
problems faced by the obesity children and what is your

Doctor Noreha

: More young people, some as young as seven are

suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a disease that
generally hits those in their 50s. Overweight and obese
children are also more likely to become overweight or
obese teenagers, and if the situation is not addressed,
they will turn into overweight adults. Children who are
obese are also more likely to have impaired glucose
tolerance, decreased insulin resistance, suffer liver
disease, sleep apnoea, breathing difficulties like
asthma, joint problems, and musculoskeletal problems.
So, it is advisable to use healthier cooking methods
such as steaming, boiling, grilling and baking. Children
also should take more fresh fruits and vegetables. Plain
drinking water also is made available to school children
at all times to avoid diseases.

Mr. Murugayah

: Children who are obese normally emotionally

and psychological effected besides of life-threatening
illness . Children also suffer from teasing by their
peers, discriminated from family and friends, low-self
esteem and depression among the psychological effect.
These cause the children being passive and not

performing well. There were several cases of commit

suicide too because of being bullied and tease by

: Before we end our forum, What are steps should be

taken to overcome childhood obesity?

Mr. Wicky

: I would like to give some suggestions about creating a

better awareness and understanding about the body
measurements as a guide to our health. Body Mass
Index (BMI) should be listed in their report card. The
Health Minister also is campaigning for people to know
their BMI. I think the campaign should aim for more
practical and easier measurements for people to
understand and relate to. BMI also is useful for doctors
and health professionals to classify and advise the
patients accordingly.

Doctor Noreha

: As parents, we should play important role in feeding the

children . We should closely monitor what goes in our
kids tummy. No doubt there are some mothers who love
to cook and feed the whole family with great food. Thus,
we shall have to eat healthy food by the food pyramid. In
order to promote a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious
food, we as parents has to start first. Cook homemade
food instead of buying outside or fast food. Bring along
children to exercise. Children are good observer, they
imitate what we do. At the same allow junk food only
once a month in small quality not a daily food.

Mr. Murugayah

: Thats true. Small hawkers selling junk food near the

school area should be prohibited. All school children
need to undergo fitness test and parents together with
their children should involve in different kinds of outdoor
activities and exercises.


: Thank you sir. We hope from our discussion today our

community will be aware of the childhood obesity. We
also hope we will definitely solve the problems or at
least reduce the childhood obesity level in Malaysia.

Prevention is better than cure. Thank you very much to

our panels Doctor Noreha, Mr. Wickneswaran and Mr.
Murugayah for sharing opinion and information with us.
Thats all for our topic today and we will meet again
next week with another issue. I am Devaki
Subramaniam from health Fair forum conducted by
Johor Health Department signing off. Thank you and
good night.

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