Monday, February 26, 2007

Fat foods, Fast Foods, CAD Risks and the Malaysian Approach

Recently there have been many articles in the local mainstream press about fast foods (merits and de-merits). These articles all stem from the Minister of Health's recent comments that the Government is considering banning fast foods advertisement, claiming (correctly) that fast foods contribute to an increased incidence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Interesting idea. However, what I did not hear is his (MOH) definition of fast food.

I suppose, he meant Western fast foods like McDonald buggers, KFCs, Kenny Rogers, Wendy's, potato chips etc,etc. Where I agree is that many of these fast foods use trans fatty acid in their preparation and trans fats are not good for our health and our heart. Recently we posted that the New York City Health authorities have banned the use of trans-fat in New York restaurants. Are we again apping the US?

Although I agree that trans-fat is bad for our heart, trans fat use is not confined to the popular western fast foods (read McDonalds, KFC, Kenny Rogers, Wendy's, chips etc). They are also found in local fast food "delicacies" like roti canai, roti bomb, nasi lemak, kerupok, murukoo, curry puff etc. In fact, there is probably more sugar and calories per cc of "teh tarik" than in coca-cola, or root beer. I am certain that roti canai amd teh tarik also contribute to the rising incidence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in Malaysians, especially Malaysians of South Indian origin and the Malays.

Is MOH also going to ban advertisements on these local delicacies. The very good intention of the Government to improve our health, may ring hollow, if we only punish the Western fast foods, leaving the local culprits, unregulated. It may be a very big challenge even for the MOH to ban roti canai and teh tarik advertisement, not forgetting that some Malaysians view roti canai and teh tarik as part of Malaysian culture. Remember, we are taking teh tarik to space? Then again, this is Malaysia, and Malaysia Boleh (right or wrong, is another issue).

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