MOH Mulls Mandatory Control Of Unhealthy Food Ads

MOH’s MyIklan Logo Guidelines aim to raise awareness about high-fat, high-salt, and high-sugar food and beverages. Feasibility of mandatory controls on advertising unhealthy food and beverages will be assessed based on the success of the guidelines.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) is considering mandatory restrictions on marketing unhealthy food to minimise public exposure and reduce purchases of junk food, as a preventive strategy to address Malaysia’s high obesity rates.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry is voluntarily introducing the MyIklan Logo Guidelines, in collaboration with the food and beverage industry, advertising companies, and broadcasters through commercials.

The move is expected to raise awareness among Malaysians on high-fat, high-salt, and high-sugar food and beverages, Dzulkefly told Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein in a written Dewan Rakyat reply on March 11.

“At the same time, the MOH will assess the feasibility of implementing mandatory controls on advertising unhealthy food and beverages based on the success of implementing the MyIklan Logo Guidelines, to ensure more comprehensive and targeted advertising control.

“To achieve this objective, MOH has developed a database called Nutrient Profile 1.0 which outlines the limits for fat, salt, and sugar content in a food product category. It will be used as a reference for determining which food and beverages can be advertised,” Dzulkefly said.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 previously reported a 50.1 per cent prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults, with 30.4 per cent classified as overweight and 19.7 per cent as obese.

In Putrajaya, nearly half of adult residents, or 45.8 per cent, are obese, indicating that the administrative capital has the highest adult obesity rate in Malaysia.

Putrajaya’s 45.8 per cent adult obesity prevalence is more than double the national rate of 19.7 per cent among adults aged 18 years and older. Over four in 10, or 41.4 per cent, of civil servants working in government agencies or departments in Malaysia are obese.

The NHMS 2019 report also found that the national prevalence for diabetes among adults was 18.3 per cent.

Eight states had a higher adult diabetes rate than the national prevalence. Negeri Sembilan topped the list with a 33.2 per cent diabetes prevalence, followed by Perlis (32.6 per cent), Pahang (25.7 per cent), Kedah (24.9 per cent), Putrajaya (22.9 per cent), Terengganu (20.5 per cent), Johor (19.7 per cent), and Kelantan (19.5 per cent).

Dzulkefly said MOH continues to implement various strategies to tackle the country’s obesity rates, including the sugar reduction campaign with the tagline “1 Teaspoon is Enough, Less is Better, None is Best!”.

Campaigns promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables and advocating for a healthy plate through the concept of ‘Suku Suku Separuh’ (Quarter, Quarter, Half) are consistently carried out.

To promote a healthy lifestyle, MOH is intensifying the National Healthy Malaysia Agenda (ANMS) from 2020 to 2030 to enhance health literacy among the population so they can make informed health decisions.

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