Nutrition education in primary schools

I was surfing when I landed FAO's page on teaching good eating habits to reduce malnutrition and diet-related diseases. The article published in Oct 2007 in Rome stated that FAO is publishing (published)a planning guide for nutrition education in primary schools.

Educating school children in healthy nutrition is one of the most effective strategies for overcoming malnutrition and chronic diet-related diseases but has been neglected far too long, FAO said today.

The UN agency announced the publication of a new comprehensive guide for curriculum development addressing nutrition education in primary school.

Good nutrition education can make children aware of how to achieve a nourishing diet with limited means; how to prepare and handle food safely and how to avoid food-related risks.

As future parents, they will know about the benefits of breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and be able to educate their children to follow a diet that is well balanced and of good quality.

The guidelines can be downloaded in parts HERE. Hopefully this will be beneficial to nutrition grads and postgrads who are undertaking research focusing on primary school children.

Malaysian Dietary Guidelines

Yes, there is such thing after all and according to the guidelines:

* you should enjoy a variety of foods.
Different foods provide different combinations of energy (calories) and nutrients (like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre). Eating a variety of foods is the best way to meet your energy and nutrient requirements in order to grow, develop, move, work, play, think and learn.

* you have to maintain a healthy body weight by balancing food intake with regular physical activity.
Maintaining healthy body weight helps you prevent health problems and gives you a better body image. On the other hand, being too thin or too fat increases the risk of health problems

* you are advised to eat more rice and other cereal products, legumes, fruit and vegetables.
These foods are emphasised because they provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre and other components that are important for good health.

* you should minimise fat in food preparation and choose foods that are low in fat and cholesterol.
Dietary fat is important to your health because it supplies energy, a variety of fatty acids (particularly those known as essential fatty acids or EFA), as well as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fat also makes food more palatable.

* you can only use a small amount of salt and choose foods low in salt.
Sodium is vital for your body to function properly. However, only a very small amount of sodium is needed. Excessive sodium intake is associated with the incidence of high blood pressure.

* you have to reduce sugar intake and choose foods low in sugar.
Sugar is a useful and popular food item. However, other than simple carbohydrate (which provides energy), sugar is devoid of other nutrients. The World Health Organisation recommends that not more than 10% of energy should come from sugar.

* you have to drink plenty of water daily.
Water is essential for your body’s functions including digestion, nutrient absorption and transportation, excretion of waste products, regulation of body temperature and lubrication of
moving parts.

* you (read women) are advised to practise and promote breast-feeding.
Breastmilk provides all the nutrients that your baby needs for growth and development, including brain development. It also protects your baby from infection. Breastfed babies have less diarrhoea and infections, compared with bottle-fed babies. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to mother and promotes bonding with baby.

You may download the English version HERE.

Alcohol and drug rehabilitation

Residential Drug Rehabilitation and Alcohol Rehab centres are not well accepted in this part of the world. I wonder why. In fact, I can't seem to recall if we have a decent drug rehab which specialised in Drug Treatment in Malaysia. Yes, we have Pusat Serenti but that is not what I am talking about. Is it the social stigma surrounding people fighting drug and alcohol addiction? I wonder again.

News of famous Hollywood actors and actresses joining high-class rehabilitation centres flashes our newspapers and online news portals. Paparazzi tag them along like parasites looking for an opportunity to snap a picture or two, proving that they are having issues indeed. If an open and liberal society like the Western treats rehabs with caution, what more conservative country like ours. I think it would take a long time before we could hear some aunties talking about how successful a drug rehab was in treating her son, or how easy it was for her husband to shrug off his obsession with alcohol after checking in into one high class alcohol rehab. We have a long way to go before we can see that happening in our country.

For now, the burden of treating drug abuse and alcoholism in this country fell on the shoulder of health professionals, especially the medical doctors.


A proud website by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, an organization I am currently a member.

While many tend to shy away from nutriWEB and only visit it during the registration for the annual scientific conference, I still feel this is a good initiative by the society to disseminate some nutritional information to the public. You get to browse the soft copies of research papers published in Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, download health recipes taken from their Resepi Sihat Pilihan Bijak cooking books, calculate your BMI in their nutrition tool and get some health facts as well. The latest news updated in the website is the newspaper articles published in the main stream media.

I do have my grouses about the site as well. I hope they will update it as frequent as possible. The last update prior to the Nutrition Month news was way back in 2006! For example, they can always have new articles on nutrition and health written exclusively for the website. The council is made up with all the experts anyway!

And I do hope they will change the layout/look of the site. It has been like that every since I started visiting! *sigh..

Do you need multivit?

No, you don't.

Unless you belong to the 'high-risk' group as listed below:

  • elderly people
  • vegans/vegetarians
  • alcohol-dependent individuals
  • patients with malabsorption of certain micronutrients.

If you do not belong to any of the group above, I would say you are wasting your money on the over advertised multivitamins. Consumption of individual micronutrients also should be treated with caution as you may find mega doses of a specific micronutrients which is not only unnecessary for your body, but may also cause other health problems. For example,excessive doses of vitamin A during early pregnancy and fat-soluble vitamins taken anytime may result in adverse outcomes.

It is proven that certain inadequacy of certain micronutrients may increase the risk for some medical conditions - suboptimal folic acid levels, along with suboptimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E, and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases. However this should not be an excuse for us to indulge in one particular micronutrient unless advised by a nutritionist/dietician.

Food remains the best source of micronutrients. Remember, they are called MICRONUTRIENTS for a reason!

The Recommended Nutrient Intake for Malaysians gives you an idea on the limitation of intakes of various macro and micronutrients.

Further read:
Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults

Star fruit and kidney

I had tough time explaining to others how a man could slip into coma after consuming ordinary star fruit.

Tang Gon Seang, who has been suffering a kidney ailment was in Shenzhen visiting his son when he passed out on March 29 after eating star fruits and was rushed to the Shenzhen General Hospital where he fell into a coma.

While star fruit sellers will never going to agree with the nephrologist who advised against consumption of star fruit (only if you are a patient with kidney failure), it is a proven fact that star fruit contains neurotoxin that could harm your central nervous system. In normal people, the neurotoxin will be 'processed' by the kidneys and passed into the urine but in those kidney patients will not be able to do this.

Published in 2003, Neto et al. demonstrated the intoxification caused by star fruit in uraemic patients (patients with a toxic condition resulting from kidney disease in which there is retention in the bloodstream of waste products normally excreted in the urine).
The most common symptoms were persistent and intractable hiccups in 30 patients (93.75%), vomiting in 22 (68.7%), variable degrees of disturbed consciousness (mental confusion, psychomotor agitation) in 21 (65.6%), decreased muscle power, limb numbness, paresis, insomnia and paresthesias in 13 (40.6%) and seizures in seven (21.8%). Patients who were promptly treated with haemodialysis, including those with severe intoxication, recovered without sequelae. Patients with severe intoxication who were not treated or treated with peritoneal dialysis did not survive.
You may read the full research paper HERE.

I walk

to lose weight.

No joke.

I am not really fit enough to jog every day - I have tried and ended up with aching legs for 2 days. Then I came across a nice website dedicate to WALKING. Well, its actually a part of a website but has enough materials to be passed off as a website by itself! They touched on various aspects of walking and health. If you are trying to lose weight, then I suggest you to read up the section on Burning Calories - How to Walk for Weight Control. Good reading materials which I am currently hooked to.

Whether I will succeed losing the remaining 11kg (to achieve 15kg weight loss) or no, I am happy that I have actually picked up an healthy routine. I know eventually I will get more benefit from it. God bless!

Food shortage?

Just read an article on how to save money by eating at home. The interview was given by Assoc Prof Dr Mirnalini from UPM, my former supervisor (for Master Degree). Sharing some excerpts of the interview:

Universiti Putra Malaysia associate professor Dr Mirnalini Kandiah said eating at home has added benefits, even if it was a simple meal.

"Instead of eating nasi lemak and nasi minyak which has added fats, Malaysians should opt for simpler meals prepared at home..... foods like nasi lemak and roti canai were generally unhealthy as they lack the neccesary nutrients. She also stressed the fact that food at eateries can be high in fat.

"We should cut down on rice meals because prices (of rice) will increase given all this talk about shortage. And this will have serious implications for the nutritional status of the poor and undeserved population, whose main source of energy comes from rice..

....while rice consumption was not linked to being overweight, reducing one's rice intake would help a person lose weight.

"You are reducing the main source of energy in your diet, so there is less to store.

Read the full article in NST.

Biological clock

Was surfing for something when I landed on a page on Chronobiology. Interesting stuff.

(Please click on it for larger view)

Biological clock affects the daily rhythm of many physiological processes. This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 p.m.). Although circadian rhythms tend to be synchronized with cycles of light and dark, other factors - such as ambient temperature, meal times, stress and exercise - can influence the timing as well.

I'm an overweight nutritionist

Sad truth. I know.

Its not easy to educate others when we ourselves are not perfect. Well, no one is perfect but that is another story for another day. I will never listen and trust a doctor who smokes. I may be prejudiced but hey, a doctor who preach about good health should do what he preaches. Same goes to me.

Looks cute.. but overweight *sigh, just like me :P

I am a picky eater, careful about my diet and fairly active. No, my weight gain was not due to these two factors but due to some 'interesting' factors which I can't discuss. But that should not be a reason for me to continue to be in this condition isn't it?

I am putting in a lot of effort to lose those extra pounds. Yes, a lot of effort. I have put up a weight loss ticker in tulipspeaks. Hmm.. may be I should put up one here too. Good for self-motivation purpose. Yes, self-monitoring is the key factor to lose the inches by yourself.

As time goes by, I will share more of the tips that I follow, especially if it works! :P

Re-blogging in nutritoday

Felt like it has been forever since I wrote something in this space. Maintaining tulipspeaks, my personal blog and moderating mindsblog, a common blog has been my priority. I took quite a while to select an appropriate template for the "new-nutritoday" and even longer to update it.
My apologies for that.

I hope to have the discipline and blog here at least twice a week. As I am a pro in rambling about myself, guess it won't be that hard, isn't it? :P