Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

Obesity among Asia-Pacific children is a growing health crisis, say researchers.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018
Unhealthy diet: The rise in the consumption of processed foods, which often contain excess fats, salt and sugar, is one of the main contributors to the rapid rise in obesity among young people in Asia-Pacific.

Unhealthy diet: The rise in the consumption of processed foods, which often contain excess fats, salt and sugar, is one of the main contributors to the rapid rise in obesity among young people in Asia-Pacific.

OBESITY rates among children in Asia-Pacific are rising at a rapid rate, and more action is needed to encourage healthier lifestyles and ease pressure on fledgling healthcare systems, researchers say.

The number of overweight children under five rose 38% between 2000 and 2016 in the region, and the problem is growing, according to Sridhar Dharmapuri, a food safety and nutrition officer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Bangkok.

“The rate of growth in obesity in Asia-Pacific is higher than in many other countries,” Dharmapuri told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“While the United States leads the way on obesity rates, the number of overweight children in Asia-Pacific is rising rapidly, and many countries in this region are now among the most health-threatened in the world.

But the rapid rise in obesity among young people in Asia-Pacific is worrying because overweight children are at higher risk of becoming obese as adults and then developing serious health problems like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and liver disease.

Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are among the most overweight countries in South-East Asia, while Samoa, Tonga and Nauru are the most overweight in the Pacific. Australia also has high rates of obesity.

Many of these nations are also struggling to tackle malnutrition among their citizens.

The cost to the Asia-Pacific region of citizens being overweight or obese is US$166bil (RM646.2bil) a year, a recent report by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) said.

Rising wealth levels over the last 20 years have played a major role in the rise in obesity levels, researchers say.

“The region has undergone economic growth, so food has become available at a relatively cheaper price,” said Matthias Helble, an economist at ADBI in Tokyo.

“For the last 20 years the economic growth has been almost uninterrupted,” said Helble, who has researched obesity levels in the region for three years.

In addition to consuming more, as economies have grown, people in Asia-Pacific have moved away from farming into manufacturing, and then to service sector jobs – which are more sedentary.

Cities in Asia-Pacific have also seen unprecedented growth over the last two decades; this year more than half the region’s population will for the first time be urban, the United Nations has estimated.

City-dwellers in Asia-Pacific can spend hours commuting – due to poor transport systems and infrastructure – and when they finally reach home they have little time to cook. Many opt to eat out.

This new lifestyle has caused a rise in the consumption of convenience and processed foods, which often contain excess fats and more salt and sugar.

People in the region also struggle to maintain a balanced diet, said Dharmapuri, with meals often lacking vegetables.

“The diet is largely rice-based,” he said. “On anybody’s plate, rice takes up between 50-70% of the space.”

When people are overweight they often suffer from other health problems, economists said, and this is likely to put pressure on public healthcare systems that are only just being established in many Asia-Pacific nations.

Absenteeism from work is also higher among obese people, said Helble, adding that overweight people often die earlier than those who lead healthy lives, so have a shorter productive life.

“The term ‘obesogenic environment’ has been used to describe an environment that promotes obesity among individuals and populations,” Elizabeth Ingram of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – a government statistics agency – said by e-mail.

“It includes physical, economic, political, and sociocultural factors.”

Fixing the problem will likely take years, and researchers said a joint effort by business and governments was needed.

Better labelling on foods to promote healthier options, education about healthier diets and lifestyles, and even healthier school meals would improve the situation, analysts said.

Sugar taxes, which have been introduced or are being discussed in the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, are also one way to change people’s mindset, said Helble.

Building more sports facilities at schools and ensuring urban planners include recreational areas for cities and make them more walkable and less polluted, is also crucial.

Governments must work with retailers, like in Singapore, to create a coordinated approach on packaging and promote a balanced diet, researchers said.

Working with retailers to ban unhealthy and sweet foods from checkout areas, and pushing street vendors to switch from fried foods to healthier, more traditional options, are also key.

And countries should adopt a “farm to fork” approach, which encourages farmers to diversify what they grow and be less reliant on growing just rice, said Dharmapuri.

“In some Pacific island countries, it’s actually easier to buy soft drinks and processed foods than buy fruits and vegetables,” he added.

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Don’t play around with safety

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

PLAYGROUND or danger zone?

The lines could easily be blurred, if areas for children to play and socialise turn into safety hazards due to poor maintenance, faulty equipment and badly designed layouts.

For public playgrounds in Malaysia, most (75.6%) are in a bad state, according to a recent study on 40 parks.

Rusty swing hooks, missing handhold bars and leg rests, broken spring rockers and big gaps in pathways are just some of the findings by the Playground Safety Association of Malaysia (PSAM).

Over 50% of playground equipment and park furniture are also rusty, posing a danger to children, says the study.

But the most common problem, plaguing 64% of the playgrounds, is the surfacing or flooring in play areas.

They are uneven, damaged, rotten or caked with fungus, completely worn out or unfastened from concrete floors.

“This is an important factor because 78% of injuries by children in playgrounds are due to falls,” according to the study made available to Sunday Star.

Such surfacing helps absorb the shock of falls but if they are damaged, it could even be the cause of a child to trip and get hurt.

Other main problems include damaged slides, broken swings, uncut grass and areas littered with hazardous items like broken bottles and trash, says PSAM secretary-general Noriah Mat.

“This is a long-standing problem in Malaysia because the know-how on playground maintenance and safety is still rather new here.

“But it’s high time to start training contractors to build safer playgrounds with proper layouts,” she says.

An example of poor layout is placing the jogging track or walkway too close to swings. Accidents may occur if the child on the swing collides with people walking on the path.

While safety is a shared responsibility in the community, Noriah says local governments are responsible for ensuring public areas are safe for use.

“Local authorities should carry out audits of playgrounds, identify the problems and solve them.

“They should engage certified playground safety inspectors (CPSI) to work with contractors in the installation and maintenance of playgrounds,” she says.

The study by PSAM, conducted for the Public Complaints Bureau, surveyed public playgrounds in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan in July last year.

During a national seminar on playgrounds last year, Public Complaints Bureau director-general Datuk Harjeet Singh had said there were a total of 11,231 complaints regarding playgrounds received by local authorities between 2015 and 2016.

Based on data from the Health Ministry, 530 children were discharged from public hospitals after suffering from falls involving playground equipment between 2014 and 2016.

Harjeet suggests that local authorities carry out mandatory yearly audits on parks.

“The findings of such checks should be the reference for local authorities to allocate budgets in repairing, upgrading and maintaining playgrounds,” he says.

The bureau also suggests that each local council have officers who are qualified CPSI and for advocacy programmes to be conducted to deter vandalism.

To set a benchmark on safety nationwide, the Department of Standards Malaysia has updated standards that public playgrounds should adhere to.

Three Malaysian Standards on playground equipment and surfacing were approved in January last year.

National Landscape Department deputy director-general (development) Rotina Mohd Daik says the new standards are a comprehensive update to the 2001 version.

One of the changes is increasing the minimum thickness of surfacing material from 25mm up to 100mm, depending on the fall height.

“Thicker surfacing will result in less impact for children and reduce risks of head injuries.

“Ideally, the whole play area should be covered with rubberised surfacing instead of just certain places like the landing areas for slides,” she explains.

The play area for swings should also have sufficent space between other equipment.

“The space between the swings and others should be double the height of the swing. So, if the swing is 2m tall, then the minimum clearance between the swing and other people or equipment should be 4m in length,” Rotina says.

While the standards are in place, the next step is to engage local authorities so that they will apply it to playgrounds nationwide.

“We plan to meet all 149 local authorities nationwide by this year to get them to use the standards in the planning permission stage for playgrounds.

“We want them to embed these standards in the contracts for developers and contractors. If they can do that, it will be a very good start in boosting playground safety,” Rotina says.

Department of Standards Malaysia director-general Datuk Fadilah Baharin says the new standards were developed to ensure the quality of playgrounds.

“Standards not only protect users, but also manufacturers of playground equipment. Should there be any legal disputes, manufacturers can defend themselves by falling back on the standards which they have adhered to,” she says.

It is currently not mandatory for local authorities to impose the standards but Fadilah hopes that they will consider it in their plans.

Noting that there is low awareness on playground safety, she urges parents to always supervise their children when they are at playgrounds

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Children must be exposed to safety issues, self-protection

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

PAPAR: The safety of younger generations is not something to be compromised for they are the nation’s number one asset, said Chairman of Sabah Land Development Board Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail.

He noted that due to their young age, children have not been exposed enough to safety issues and how to protect themselves.

Thus, he said, it is the duties of parents, teachers and the society as a whole to be concerned and wary of the safety of youngsters instead of turning a blind eye to incidents that may harm them.

“In terms of safety, it covers the simplest and basic incidents including small accidents and injuries in schools or fire safety in homes as well as social problems such as drug abuse among others.

“These are also included in the form of safety for our children because they commonly become the target of these criminals,” said Rahim who is also Pantai Manis Assemblyman.

He was speaking after launching the 2018 ‘Let’s Be Safe’ campaign for primary students in Papar at the Community Hall here yesterday.

More than 1,000 primary students from seven schools in the district took part in the one-day campaign organised by Repsol Oil and Gas Malaysia where safety talks and demonstrations from the company, Fire and Police Department were conducted.

Students aged seven to 12 were also exposed to hazards and taught how to take action in cases of emergency through interactive video games.

“Through these interactions and simulations, the children will be more aware and see for themselves rather than speaking and talking (to them).

“It is not easy to handle children what more catch their attention but when we do simulations in forms of coloured pictures and computers, for example, they would be more attracted and better understand the issue that we are trying to bring.”

The campaign that was initiated in 2013 was part of Repsol’s corporate social responsibility which aimed to raise awareness and provide guidance to primary school students on safety issues.

Since its inception, more than 8,000 students from Sabah and Labuan have benefited from the programme. According to Repsol Oil and Gas Malaysia Health, Safety and Environment Manager Abu Bakar Hanfi Abdul Mannan, the team’s belief on early education had led to the initiative to teach children on hazards, risks, and safety.

Through the application of interactive videos, he said, the campaign had managed to bring greater impact to participants.

“Children are known to love playing, so we created video games that would interact with them where they could explore and at the same time identify hazards that are available in schools, public playing areas or even at homes.” He added that children were also given hands-on learning experience and practical training including the handling of fire extinguisher, how to communicate and were taught to memorize numbers that may be useful during emergencies.

He stated that through close collaboration with the Education, Fire and Police departments, the campaign will be extended to Tuaran, this year.


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Keeping kids safe

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Educators explain how preschoolers can be taught vital fire safety information that can make a big difference in case of an emergency.

“SCREAM fire!”

“Spray water!”

“Stop, drop and roll!”

These were some of the responses from preschoolers aged between three to six at the UCSI Child Development Centre during a recent fire drill.

Held thrice annually, the fire drill is one of the efforts the centre takes in raising awareness among the young on the do’s and don’ts in case a fire breaks out.

A number of tragic accidents caused by fire of late has gripped the nation; from the fire in Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, last September that killed 23 students and teachers, to the fire that broke out in SK Sentosa, Tawau in February.

Acknowledging this, the centre aims to develop and produce quick thinking students who know how to react in such situations, says its manager Pang Yin Ling.

For her, education is key in raising awareness.

A firefighter from the Cheras Fire and Rescue station demonstrates how to use a fire extinguisher to the pupils.

A firefighter from the Cheras Fire and Rescue station demonstrates how to use a fire extinguisher to the pupils.

“We teach them the basic emergency numbers they should know by heart and steps they must follow to ensure their safety, based on tips and advice given by the Fire and Rescue Department.

“A child has a very short attention span, it is likely that they will forget what they have learnt at the beginning of the year.

“Therefore, my teachers and I make it a point to educate them over a period of time,” she adds.

Pang says the Fire and Rescue Department, and the centre inculcate fun learning into their activities with the pupils as a means of engaging with them; younger pupils also learn faster via play.

With each lesson, pupils are effectively able to demonstrate methods of escaping, she shares.

While the centre runs its own fire drill sessions and talks, Pang feels it is also important to have professional firefighters over to demonstrate.

Helping kids to be fire ready

Cheras Fire and Rescue Station chief officer Mohd Khairul Azmi Jaafar agreed with Pang, stating firefighters are ready to assist.

“The Fire and Rescue Department has established a club called Kelab 3K (Kelab Keselamatan Kebakaran Kanak-Kanak), which focuses on child care centres, through its fire safety modules and exercises.

“Once a child care centre is registered with Kelab 3K under a Fire and Rescue station within its area, we have their records and closely monitor which centres conducts fire drills and other programmes.

A firefighter from Cheras Fire and Rescue Station helps a child from UCSI Child Development Centre to hose down a fire during a fire safety demonstration by the firefighters.

Firefighters from Cheras Fire and Rescue Station douse a fire under the watchful eyes of the children from UCSI Child Development Centre, during a fire drill and safety demonstration.

“This way, we can supervise and are able to call up the centres which do not practise drills regularly,” he adds.

The aim behind Kelab 3K is to inculcate a basic understanding and knowledge of fire safety for schoolchildren.

Mohd Khairul says a common misconception that occurs is society placing full responsibility on the Fire and Rescue Department to raise awareness.

Fire has no friend or foe, he stresses.

“The responsibility to educate the young falls on society as a whole.

“In our campaigns, we emphasise one fire extinguisher for one home.

“Besides being an active fire protection device, placing it in homes will also attract a child’s curiosity.

“As they start asking questions, we educate them and it subsequently creates a cycle,” he shares.

A child from UCSI Child Development Centre covers his nose and mouth as he crawls away from a “fire” during a fire safety demonstration.

A child from UCSI Child Development Centre covers his nose and mouth as he crawls away from a “fire” during a fire safety demonstration.

UCSI Child Development Centre head of academic affairs and child psychologist Dr Chiah Wan Yeng states that fire drills conditions a child on how to deal with an emergency.

“Classical conditioning is a learning technique that can be applied to train children in dealing with emergency situations.

“It is one of the most constructive methods because by conditioning them to such situations, children learn how to respond following a stimulus.

“In a fire break out, the alarm is the important stimuli and the response that follows this stimulus will be the key to their survival.

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EXCLUSIVE: Children exploited by drug addict parents

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
A MOTHER was found to have used her two-month-old baby for money to satisfy her drug addiction. (FIle pix)

ALOR STAR: A MOTHER was found to have used her two-month-old baby for money to satisfy her drug addiction.

This was revealed during a joint operation under the National Blue Ocean Strategy with the National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada), police and the state Education and Welfare Departments.

A state Welfare Department spokesman said drug addicts had been using children to get cash. Some mothers even drugged their children to get them to
do what they wanted, resulting in children becoming addicts.

He said in just three months, the department had rescued 11 children, aged between 2 months and 13 years, who were neglected by their drug addict parents.

He said it was unfortunate that the children did not get the opportunity to go to school.

“Some of them are neglected, while others are homeless. The department has rescued 11 children since we started the operation last year.

“The children are being cared for by their relatives,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said the department rescued five siblings, including a 2-month-old baby, during a raid in Kota Sarang Semut here last November.

He added that of the five, an 11-year-old tested positive for drugs and had drug supplies on him, believed to belong to his parents.

“Nada officers had detained the parents. But, they continue to use their children to gain people’s sympathy. The five children are under their aunt’s care after receiving a temporary order under Section 19(2) of the Child Act (Amendment) 2016.”

He said four siblings, aged between 3 and 9, were found in a dilapidated house, while their father was busy taking drugs at a neighbour’s house, during another operation in Simpang Kuala near here.


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Malaysia tops in South-East Asia for online child pornography.

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has the highest number of IP addresses uploading and downloading photographs and visuals of child pornography in South-East Asia, authorities have said.

The number of children falling prey to perpetrators whom they befriended online is also reportedly increasing fast.

Many Malaysian parents let their children use handphones without monitoring them, and more than 60% of children spend time in online chatrooms on the Internet on a daily basis.

Data shows that close to 20,000 IP addresses in Malaysia upload and download photographs and visuals of child pornography and that the country ranks top in South-East Asia in this regard.

Asst Comm Ong Chin Lan of the Royal Malaysia Police’s Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11), in a seminar on “Cyber Protection for Children”, revealed that based on data furnished by Dutch police based in Malaysia in 2015, about 17,338 IP addresses involved in child pornography were from Malaysia.

ACP Ong said data showed that prior to 2014, an average of 60 children a year were sexually assaulted by perpetrators whom they had befriended through the Internet.

The figure increased to 184 in 2015 and 183 in 2016. In 2017, the figure was 117, as of May 2017.

It is learnt that about 51% of children aged between 13 and 15 befriended the perpetrators through messaging app WeChat. Other channels included Facebook, WhatsApp and Beetalk.

Based on an investigation by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) of children between 10 and 17 in 2015, 91.6 % owned a handphone before the age of 15 while 88.5% had Facebook or other social media accounts.

It also found that only 35.6% of parents monitor their children’s activities.

Another figure that revealed a worrying trend was that 60% of girls and 40% of boys would go on to meet the people they befriended online.

Chen Pei Ling of non-governmental organisation PS The Children revealed during the seminar that out of 10 children surveyed by the group, three admitted to having met “boyfriends” whom they had never met in real life before.

Sin Chew Daily/Asia News Network
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Preventing teen suicide in era of social media

Sunday, January 7th, 2018
Good guidance for teenagers is vital as what they see or view on social media can shape their thoughts and opinions.

Experts are worried that impressionable teenagers may be influenced by social media or TV shows that ‘romanticise’ the act of suicide.

THE grieving families of two California teenagers who committed suicide last April, just days after watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, said the show acted as a trigger for their daughters. Bella Herndon, who was three days shy of 16, and Priscilla Chui, who had battled depression and struggled in school, did not know each other, but had watched the show at around the same time and died four days apart.

In the series, based on Jay Asher’s New York Times bestseller of the same name and produced by pop star Selena Gomez, young Hannah Baker committed suicide, and her reasons for doing so are contained in a series of cassette tapes she mailed to her classmates.

A few months ago, a college student in the Klang Valley allegedly imitated what he saw in the show by jumping off a building to his death. His friends were shocked by the incident as they had seen similar behaviour in other friends, who watched the series.

In 2016, Befrienders Kuala Lumpur reported 7,446 calls related to suicide; 26 per cent of them were students.

Social media and teen shows can be very influential in the lives of young adults today, because it’s about wanting to connect; to be in tune with every single experience that life can offer them, said HELP University counselling psychologist Dr Gerard Louis.

“They don’t want to be left out yet ironically, this generation of young people describe themselves as isolated and excluded. Many studies are beginning to show that there is a connection between heavy social media use and feeling isolated.”

He said what researchers were trying to figure out was whether isolation drove social media use or the heavy use of social media drove isolation, as all the time spent on social media deprived them of real interactions with people.

“Another reason people feel a sense of exclusion is that people watch all these interactions going on in social media and that it seems like everyone is connecting with everyone else but it always seems like other people’s lives are so much better than theirs, such as dream vacations and new homes.

“So the more they see this, the more they feel left out and are never able to get what they want, hence the greater the level of exclusion and possibly depression.”

However, he explained, this did not mean that social media had a causal link to suicide.

“We don’t know yet the mechanism that happens regarding this issue but there are certainly relationships here between high social media use and the heightened sense of exclusion and isolation. This makes people more vulnerable to suicide attempts.”

Louis pointed out that teenagers were more susceptible to ideas of suicide.

“For one, the teenage world can typically be a very confusing place. A very famous psychologist, Stanley Hall, coined the term ‘storm and stress’ to describe a heightened state of turmoil that teenagers experience due to the rapid physiological, psychological, emotional and social changes taking place in their lives.

“They’re not children anymore but not yet adults. Many go through an ‘identity crisis’ during this stage. Their views of right and wrong are constantly changing, often depending on their peers for direction and who influence them most. It’s often also said that the self esteem is most battered during this stage.

“On top of all of this, there’s the stress of having to constantly do well in school and exams. The pressure for many of these young people is great. While they have many virtual friends on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms, they remain lonely.”

He said suicide happened when people did not feel a strong sense of connection with significant others and experience a deep sense of hopelessness regarding the future.

“In such a psychological state, and without a strong anchor in life, you can understand why ideas of suicide or self-harm appeal to many young people.”

Homemaker Stephanie Leong believes it depends on how the child is brought up.

“Children who are brought up properly are strong and confident in their own beliefs and are not easily swayed by others. They most likely will have a responsible adult who was always there for them when they were growing up, to guide them, to listen to them and to be their pillar of strength. Spending half an hour a day of quality time with them is better than none at all.

“For children who grew up without parental love and guidance, they will likely turn to their peers for attention. If their peers are of a bad influence or vicious in moral character, the child will be susceptible to their impact. The child may grow up insecure and without self-awareness. They will do anything to please their peers, just to be accepted,” said the mother of two.

She said social media and teen shows were big influences in the lives of young adults simply because they spent so much time there.

“If personalities they hero-worship are a bad influence, they’ll most likely mimic their behaviour.”

Leong, who founded the Facebook group “Parents To Tweens & Teens – Malaysia”, explained she started it when her kids were in their teens so parents like herself could discuss the problems their teenage children might face, and to support each other.

“Most parents fear the rebellious teen. For whatever reasons, be it hormonal or influence from friends, a docile and happy child may suddenly turn into an angry and stubborn teen. It’s really hard to get through to them.

“We, as parents, must learn to grow with them. We cannot discipline them like a 2-year-old anymore. We have to evolve with them. We need to be their friend more than a parent. We want to gain their trust so they will confide in us. We need to learn to listen and not judge. We need to let the leash loose.”

From discussions with other parents in the group, it’s clear that if parents are too strict, their kids will stop telling them what they’re up to, she added.

“After all, they’re teens and not children that we can easily control anymore. They can do a lot of things without our knowledge. We need to choose our battles and not fight them on every little issue.”

But how can parents be an authoritative figure and confidant at the same time?

“I believe that for our children to respect us, we must also learn to respect them as individuals. We have to be consistent. For instance, my children know that they can get away with certain things but they also know that I draw the line at being untruthful and being disrespectful.

“A messy room is not nice but it’s not the end of the world. My children are not afraid to tell me that they’ve done something wrong. They know the worst they will get from me is an earful. Also, do not make promises to your children you can’t keep. It’s okay to say you’ll try instead. And it’s also okay to say you’re sorry if you’ve wronged them.”

A student counsellor from a private college in Sunway concurred.

“Young adults are very different from when we were teenagers before. There is a fine line between being a friend and foe.

“Unfortunately, most don’t come to me voluntarily for counselling. It’s usually recommended by the lecturer when they notice abnormal behaviour or by parents who can’t get through to them,” she said.

She added that parents who pushed their college kids to extremes by demeaning them or yelling at them in front of their friends would be surprised at the lengths they would go to get attention.

“The best way I’ve seen to deal with a troubled youth is to take them out on one-on-one outings, so they feel special and will more likely open up to you.”


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Nutritionists to work together with PTAs nationwide to increase awareness on healthy eating.

Sunday, November 26th, 2017
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam on a walkabout after launching a health campaign, the Kem Nak Sihat “Bersama Komuniti Kekal Sihat” (Creating a healthy community together). Pix by Mohd Asri Saifuddin Mamat

KLANG: Nutritionists will be sent to schools nationwide to hold nutrition talks and classes with Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) to enlighten parents on the importance of healthy eating in childhood.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the programme, “Awareness on Health Eating with PTA”, organised in collaboration with the Education Ministry, aims to educate parents and promote a healthy eating lifestyle.

This, he said, would help bring down the number of overweight and obese children in the country, as well as prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“I have asked the ministry’s nutrition department to organise classes with PTAs, especially with mothers because they play a crucial role and have a greater influence in selecting the choice of foods and drinks for their children.

“Hence, if they are well informed on the proper diet required for children, on the amount of fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates to take per meal and so forth, it will help create a healthy society.

“Parents sometimes treat their children to fast food as a reward for an achievement. This, in the long run, will become a culture in the family and the child will associate success to fast food.

“Therefore, if parents have the information needed, it will help them make better choices when it comes to food preparation or eating out,” he said, adding that the programme, which started early this year will be expanded to schools nationwide in due time.

Dr Subramaniam told reporters this after launching a health campaign, the Kem Nak Sihat “Bersama Komuniti Kekal Sihat” (Creating a healthy community together) here today.

The Kem Nak Sihat is an initiative by the Health Ministry to increase awareness on the need to practice a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising. It will be conducted nationwide.

This year’s Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) results saw the inclusion of Body Mass Index (BMI) component in the Primary School Assessment Report (PPSR).

It was revealed that more than 50,000 Year Six pupils nationwide are obese.

The results showed that a total of 268,314 (63.4 per cent) students recorded normal BMI; 56,584 (13.4) students are at risk of being obese; 58,294 (13.8 per cent) students are obese; and 40,347 (9.5 per cent) students underweight.

For the National Physical Fitness Standard, 40,957 (9.5 per cent) candidates recorded ‘very high’ fitness levels and 168,101 (38.8 per cent) candidates recorded high fitness levels. The other 189,929 (43.9 per cent) candidates recorded fit fitness levels and 3,644 (0.8 per cent) candidates recorded unfit fitness levels.

Malaysia’s National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 found that 17.5 per cent of those aged 18 and above, or 17.5 per cent of the 3.5 million total, have diabetes.


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Over 1,800 teenagers, children went missing last year

Thursday, November 16th, 2017
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat says a total of 1,803 children and teenagers under 18 years of age were reported missing last year. (Image is for illustration purpose only.)
By Bernama - November 15, 2017 @ 10:59pm

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 1,803 children and teenagers under 18 years of age were reported missing last year the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Of the number, 979 of them were found while 824 others are still missing.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat said the number had increased as compared to 2015 figures when 1,782 went missing, 1,563 were found and 219 are still missing

In 2014, a total of 2,015 people were reported missing, 1,959 were traced and 56 still missing while in the previous year 2,054 people were reported missing with 2,026 people found and 28 still missing.

For the period 2013 – 2016 it was revealed that the main cause of teenagers running away from home was to seek freedom which involved 4,188 cases, following friends (1,330 cases), following lovers (1,025 cases), family misunderstandings (715 cases), not interested in studies (150 cases ), seeking employment (101 cases), custody disputes (64 cases) and lack of family attention (81 cases).

He was replying to a question from Dr Izani Husin (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) who wanted to know the statistics on children and teenagers running from home from 2013 to 2016.

Masir said the problem of runaway teenagers and children could be solved if parents monitored their children’s movement and friends as well as forbade them from going out with strangers.

He said parents should also monitor their children’s digital use and interactions on social media platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, YouTube as they could be easily influenced, adding that to steer them away from unhealthy culture, parents should emphasise on religious and moral education.

He added that in terms of gender 1,222 female children and teenagers went missing last year as compared to 581 male children and teenagers.

From 2013 to 2016, 65 cases involved children aged six and under, seven to 12 years old (297 cases), 13 to 15 years old (3,959 cases) and 16 to 18 years (3,333 cases) in the 2013 to 2016 period.


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Drug abuse could lead to acute mental disorder, says doctor.

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Drug abuse, especially club drugs, may not only induce short term mental problems but also trigger schizophrenia among those who are predisposed to it, said consultant psychiatrist Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid.

He said cannabis and methamphetamine could trigger schizophrenia in drug users who have risk factors such as family history.

The Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Addiction Science Research director warned that an early onset of schizophrenia due to drug use would require treatment for life.

For drug-induced psychosis, the users’ behaviour could suddenly become abnormal and they suffer from hallucination or delusion and behave aggressively, which mimic schizophrenia, said Dr Rusdi.

“If drugs are taken in the long term, some psychosis may be persistent and may turn into schizophrenia. It is not known yet if the condition will become permanent,” he said.

He said drug-induced psychosis might be acute and could lead to drug users harming or killing others.

Dr Rusdi said the University Malaya Medical Centre sees 30 to 60 cases of drug-induced psychosis every month.

Patients usually recover within three days to two weeks with treatment but if a drug user returns to the habit, he or she will have continued psychosis, he said.

He added that those wanting to kick their drug addiction may require life-long counselling.

Young patients are usually school dropouts who become dependent on their parents, he said.

He said most addicts start abusing drugs between the ages of 20 and 30 but some start as young as 12.

Dr Rusdi said there was effective treatment for opiates available but no medication yet for newer drugs.

He said most major hospitals had treatment for drug addiction and those with affected family members can seek help there.
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