PETALING JAYA: Malnourishment among children continues to be a problem in Malaysia, says Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (pic)
He said the percentage of children facing malnourishment in the country is not improving at the moment.
“The lack of proper nutrition is caused by not having enough to eat or eating enough of the right things, ” said Mah when launching a donation presentation ceremony from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Graduate School of Business (UKM-GSB) to SK Sungai Manggis, Banting on Wednesday (Feb 3).
He said that malnutrition is a serious problem that is prevalent not only in Malaysia but also countries across the world.
“Hence, there is a dire need to make real changes to promote healthy living and (better) food choices to reduce vulnerability to malnutrition, ” he added.
Mah said that about 25% of children in Malaysia are either underweight or stunted because of poor dietary habits while another 20% are overweight or obese due to inappropriate dietary choices coming from low-income families, difficulties obtaining food or various physical and mental health issues.
“We can safely say that children remain the most vulnerable to malnutrition during their formative years, ” he added.
Mah added that malnutrition can lead to a host of problems including poor school performance, poor growth and development and poor immunity and tissue development.
“Also, food and nutrition insecurity has been linked to long-term economic effects such as a higher healthcare expenditure, lower educational achievements, loss of productivity, lower earnings, and increased risk of poverty in life.”
He said children should be taught from young to select food that is low in sugar and saturated fat.
Mah also said that malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem which cannot be solved by just one party.
He also thanked UKM-GSB for conducting the Hidden Hunger project to raise money and awareness about healthy eating among the staff and pupils of SK Sungai Manggis.
Mah said the graduate students also educated parents and guardians on the ability to provide nutritious food at the lowest price and time possible.
He added that this is “a crucial move given that the Covid-19 pandemic has directly impacted the finances and livelihoods of families across the world, particularly those from the low-income group.”
The project had managed to raise RM10,000 in donations from corporate bodies that will be channelled towards providing free nutritious meals to the pupils of the school.