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Minister: Cut sugar intake in schools

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Health minister Mam Bun Heng speaks at a workshop on ‘Strategic Plan for Blindness Prevention and Control’ at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital on May 4. FB

Minister: Cut sugar intake in schools

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng called on relevant institutions, especially those in the education sector, to help reduce students’ consumption of sugary drinks by educating them about the detrimental effects of such products. Overconsumption can cause many health problems, particularly to people’s vision, he said.

Bun Heng made the call while presiding over the May 4 opening ceremony of a workshop on the “National Strategic Plan for Blindness Prevention and Control 2030”.

Bun Heng complimented the eye health programme for producing fruitful results, especially the elimination of granular conjunctivitis and night blindness. However, he expressed concerns over other problems related to ocular health, and suggested more attention be paid to non-communicable diseases.

“I request that more institutions help to educate and advise students to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks. I encourage their teachers and parents to participate in spreading this message,” he said.

He also requested that personal hygiene be improved in public places and that hygienic materials be widely available. He suggested that de-worming pills be made widely available to students.

Bun Heng thanked the World Health Organisation (WHO), The Fred Hollows Foundation, Seva Foundation, Eye Care Foundation and all health officials for their excellent cooperation in the important work of eye health.

Mengly Quach, chairman and CEO of MJQ Education, told The Post on May 4 that he hailed the workshop and the minister’s advice.

He said he was concerned about the dietary habits of Cambodian students and that it was not just eye problems that worried him. He suggested that poor food choices could lead to difficulties with hormonal and growth development. Diabetes, heart disease and stomach issues were all future potential problems, some of which were very serious.

He said all relevant ministries and institutions – and the parents and guardians of students – should be mindful of these problems, as they are rising in Cambodia.

“These problems arise because the sale of food at schools is not well managed. Non-nutritious foods, fatty and sugary foods and some which fall outside of even the basic four essential food groups defined by the WHO are widely available. These foods affect the development and health of students, including eye health,” he said.

He added that health problems would certainly afflict the youth in future, if care was not paid to their diets. This would go on to seriously affect the national economy as spending on healthcare and treatment would increase. He suggested more access to sporting opportunities be provided and that healthier food be sold at schools. The people responsible for monitoring the food available to students should develop their own standards, or follow those set by the WHO, he added.

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