KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 – The Education Ministry, Health Ministry and local councils should collaborate to regulate hawkers selling unhealthy food outside schools, a nutritionist urged. Prof Dr Zalilah Mohd Shariff of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) said currently, schools only have the power to regulate school canteen operators to sell healthy food.
“But outside the school compounds, not much the schools management can do. Therefore intervention by the local authorities is crucially needed in this matter because it comes under their jurisdiction,” she told Bernama on the sidelines of the Permata International Conference (PIC) 2016 Tuesday.
She also urged hawkers to be more conscious and responsible in terms of what kind of food they sell to children. Earlier, in her presentation titled ‘Childhood Obesity and Nutrition’, Dr Zalilah said children from low income families are likely to suffer from obesity due lack of disposable income to buy healthy food. She said healthy foods nowadays tended to be more expensive compared to unhealthy ones.
“Let’s look at the price of chicken and beef compared to the price of nuggets and sausages. It is the prices of chicken and beef that are more expensive. Even though the government through the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry had done a good job on reducing prices of vegetables and fruits by eliminating middlemen, there was a lot more that could be done. At least make the healthier food available at a cheaper rate for the low income households,” she said.