Efforts to promote healthy eating

We thank Mr Aaron Ang Chin Guan for sharing his views ("Promote healthy diet from pre-school age"; Forum Online, Aug 10).

We agree that it is important to inculcate healthy eating habits from a young age, and this is an area of focus for us in health promotion.

The Health Promotion Board's (HPB) Healthy Meals in Schools Programme (HMSP) was initiated in 2011 and the Healthy Meals in Child Care Centres Programme (HMCCP) in 2012 to help children form right eating habits from a young age and consume a balanced diet in school, with the right nutrients necessary for their growing needs.

This is implemented through a set of food service guidelines, periodic assessments and culinary training that help cooks and canteen vendors prepare tasty and healthy meals.

Currently, more than 800 childcare centres and 230 schools are participating in HMCCP and HMSP respectively.

Furthermore, under HPB's Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) programme, a new guideline took effect in schools in January this year, where drinks carrying the HCS logo do not contain more than 6g of sugar per 100ml, down from 7g per 100ml previously.

Besides schools, the home setting plays an equally important part in habit formation.

To reinforce healthy eating habits at home, parents, as key influencers in the growing years of a child's life, could prepare meals using the Healthy Plate model and practise positive role-modelling by making healthy choices when eating out.

To ensure that parents have access to information on preparing healthy food, HPB conducts nutrition workshops for parents in schools and the community.

Toolkits containing information on healthy living, nutrition and healthy eating are given to expectant and new parents, and parents of pre-schoolers.

At a wider level, we are focused on improving the quantitative and qualitative aspects of Singaporeans' diet by providing healthier meal options when they dine out.

We work closely with the food services industry to offer 500-calorie meals, meals prepared with healthier ingredients and beverages with lower sugar content under the Healthier Dining Programme (HDP), which currently involves more than 1,600 food outlets islandwide.

To help diners identify healthier meal options, we work with partner eateries to highlight these options through the HDP identifier on their storefront, in-store collaterals, point-of-sale displays, menus and marketing materials.

Alex Fun

Director

School Health and Outreach Division

Health Promotion Board