Malaysia launched first Food-EPI to control rising NCDs and obesity

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has launched its first Food-Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) today aimed at curbing the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity in the country.

Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said the Food-EPI will be used as a tool to benchmark the government's progress in creating healthy food environment against international best practices.

He said awareness on healthy eating must start early and spread among children at the school level.

“While the introduction of effective preventive policies in ensuring healthier food environment is important, the awareness on healthy food consumption needs to be emphasised from the young age.

“A healthy lifestyle plays a major role in creating healthy food environment.

"NCDs and obesity are escalating, especially among children. Thus, with this policy, we can now tackle them.

“We should not just discuss on the type of food for the society but also the industry.

"(As such) The policies need to be implemented effectively at all sectors." he said.

Taylor University pro vice-chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Dr Anthony Ho said the creation of healthy and supportive food environment play a vital role in NCD prevention.

“Over the last few decades, the prevalence of NCDs in Malaysia has risen at an alarming rate.

“The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 reported about 73 per cent of the total deaths in Malaysia were due to NCDs, with half of the number caused by cardiovascular diseases.

“It is our hope that findings from the Food-EPI project will be useful to all relevant stakeholders to assess where the nation stands, where we do well, and where we can improve on. Both soft and hard policies,” he said.

The project is a collective effort of experts and researchers from Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

Also present at the launching ceremony was University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) dean (Faculty of Sciences) Professor Dr Bariah Mohd Ali.


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