“Junk Food” is “food containing high levels of calories from sugar and fat, with less proteins , vitamins and minerals.” It is food that has low nutritional value. Eating food with high calorie content and not using up most of it in our daily life through enough physical activities, may lead to “obesity”. Myanmar, according to the “World Obesity List” has an obesity rate of just 5.7%. This is indeed good news and Myanmar should try to further reduce the rate as far as possible. The figure being in the national context, it could be that the “obesity rate” is somewhat higher in the urban areas as compared to the rural areas.
The “cause” of obesity , if not of medical origin, is that the intake of “calories” is higher than needed from eating too much, including eating the wrong foods. The “wrong foods” include “Junk Food” described above. It starts with children eating a lot of “Junk Food”- in fact too much- so that they start getting “fat” from young. Once the fat has accumulated it is very difficult to lose it. Hence they grow up into “obese” adults and become more prone to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and what not. This translates into loss of manpower and increases national expenditure on health. Many types of “Junk Food” are produced locally. Many types of low cost, low nutritional value “Junk Food” also come in through the borders with adjoining countries. The import of such “Junk Food” from neighbouring countries through “border trade” should perhaps be “controlled”. The “Junk Food” of both local and foreign origin are advertised over the TV channels to entice “consumers”, particularly the young, to eat them.
“Junk Food” are also sold in the “school tuck shops” or by “vendors” in the school compound itself. Besides “junk food” is readily available in shopping centres and the numerous “house stores” all over the city. Some seem to have been made, by unscrupulous small /micro industries and do not carry any informative labels. For the protection of the young consumers, “foods” including many “snacks”, may need to be cleared for sale particularly in the schools, by the Government Agency concerned.
We should tell our young to avoid eating Junk Food as far as possible and to eat nutritious food. Their daily meals, should as far as possible be “balanced” in terms of the content of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals etc. In Myanmar, daily meals it seems are generally heavily weighted in favour of carbohydrates. This should gradually be reduced and the variety of protein, vitamins, mineral etc. be increased. Nutritionists would be able to suggest balanced meals depending on the food varieties available in any particular region. Taking healthy and nutritious food, even nutritious “snacks”, will ensure that future generations of Myanmar are “well built as well as mentally and physically Fit”.
Education about “food and nutrition” probably has to be started early in school. Perhaps it’s time for the Department of Health to send “nutritionists” at frequent intervals to give talks in schools with aid of video presentations, about the negative affects of “Junk Food” and the positive affects of good eating. With Charity to all and Malice to none.