Do more to promote healthy food in eateries

I have long recognised the poor nutritional value of white rice, particularly with regard to its potential to cause diabetes ("In S'pore, the battle is on - against too much white rice"; May 8).

However, when eating out, I can hardly find vendors serving brown rice, even at stalls in public hospitals.

I want to take my own home-cooked brown rice along with me when eating out, but the universal "no outside food" rule has prevented me from doing so.

Considering the nutritional value of unpolished brown rice, I suggest that the following measures be implemented.

First, eateries should allow patrons to consume their own healthy versions of food, such as brown rice, if these varieties are not available there.

Second, the unpopularity of brown rice means that it does not make good business sense for stall owners to offer it. The Government could help by giving incentives such as tax or rental rebates to stalls that serve brown rice.

Third, food outlets in hospitals, schools and government organisations should be required to serve brown rice as part of their contractual agreement.

Just as the public is educated on the ill effects of cigarettes, they should also be told about the bad effects of white rice and the benefits of brown rice.

This can be done by displaying posters in eateries. Welfare handouts to the lower-income group should also include packets of brown rice.

The Health Promotion Board should consider developing a mobile app for the community to review and rate food outlets based on the nutritional values of their offerings.

In this way, the public can have informed choices, and vendors will be motivated to improve the nutritional quality of their food.

More research and development work should also be done on other food known for their high, unhealthy glycaemic indexes, such as noodles, beehoon, kuay teow, ketupat and roti prata, so that healthy equivalents can be created.

The efforts to wage war against bad food and promote good ones will prove many times more effective than the building of hospitals, buying of drugs and investments in medical personnel.

Chang Nam Yuen