Healthy Plate scheme needs a bigger push

It has long been known that diet and nutrition contribute hugely to adult onset diabetes and heart disease.

Yet the carbohydrate-heavy options for popular public dining in our food-loving nation appear to focus on the very formula that drives poor health.

The Health Promotion Board brought out the My Healthy Plate guide for balanced meals in 2014, but little of it is seen in hawker centres, foodcourts, restaurants and cafes.

The few Singaporeans I have met who prepare meals at home are unaware of the scheme.

Unless the people of Singapore wise up to the bad nutrition they are subjecting themselves to, the nation is looking at a future dominated by illnesses of more than just diabetes and heart disease - tooth decay in very young children, for instance, is on the rise.

Studies have shown that diet has an impact on mental health.

We may wish to keep this in mind, given reports of declining mental health here, not just among adults and the elderly, but also among children.

Our perspective on nutrition and "what is good to eat" - that is, what is cheap and tasty - has to shift, and it has to get to the grassroots.

I hope to see information at hawker and foodcourt stalls about not just Healthier Choice options, but also Healthy Plate portions.

There should be assurances that there is no added MSG or sugar. Information on the kind of cooking oil used, as well as the calorie count, would also be good.

Perhaps we could even hold cooking classes or competitions that promote creativity with local flavours while being aligned with the My Healthy Plate scheme.

Lee Swee Kim (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Healthy Plate scheme needs a bigger push'. Print Edition | Subscribe