Friday, 25 April 2014

Health Ministry unveils Healthy Living Masterplan

Plan targets more healthy living options by 2020
Goals include offering healthier meals in childcare centres and workplaces
By Cheryl Faith Wee, The Straits Times, 24 Apr 2014

BY 2020, childcare centres will be serving brown rice instead of white rice. HDB lift lobbies will have signs suggesting that you use the stairs instead, and eateries in business parks and industrial estates will be serving dishes that use less oil, salt and sugar.

These targets are part of the Healthy Living Master Plan which was launched yesterday.

Its vision is that one in two Singaporeans will have access to at least three healthy living options - from healthy food to nearby exercise equipment - so that they can incorporate them into their daily routine, said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health.

Various initiatives have already been rolled out in the community, schools and workplaces.

Signs have been put up at 219 blocks in Sembawang and Choa Chu Kang encouraging residents to exercise by using the stairs.

Some food stalls in Sembawang Mart and Woodlands Mart have started using more vegetables in their food and less oil.

About 600 people attended activities such as zumba and kickboxing conducted in the parks of Choa Chu Kang and Sembawang. There have also been 10 health- related workshops in the latter on topics such as cooking.

Mr Goh Peng Hong, vice-chairman of the Sembawang Citizens' Consultative Committee, said: "At our events in future, we will have some time set aside for health-related awareness, such as exhibits and talks, that can have ripple effects."

Some pre-schools, such as the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) ones in Sembawang, Woodgrove and Admiralty, have started improving children's dietary habits. At the 17 PCFs there, children are given brown rice and wholegrain bread.

Ms Veronica Tee, executive principal of PAP Community Foundation in Sembawang, Woodgrove and Admiralty, said: "Children do not usually like brown rice and wholegrain bread, but over time, they have begun to accept it. We are also giving them smaller portions. If they ask for a second helping, we will still give it to them, but we discourage third helpings."

At least 10 PCF schools in the three areas have also introduced weekly 40-minute mass workouts, and all 17 have "Fruity Fridays", when children bring fruit to share.

According to the master plan, 547,000 students in schools ranging from pre-schools to junior colleges will be offered healthier meals - with more vegetables and less oil, salt and sugar - in their canteens by 2020.

The Health Promotion Board has come up with a model for a "healthy workplace ecosystem" in Mapletree Business City. More than half of its eateries now offer dishes like wholegrain bee hoon, wholegrain chapati and desserts with less sugar, and about a fifth of meals served there are healthy options. The business park also has four active running groups and holds activities such as a mental well-being workshop.

About 350,000 Singaporeans are in workplaces that promote healthy living, but the master plan aims to raise this number to about one million by 2020.

Fifteen business parks and industrial estates will implement systems promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Dr Faishal said: "We want to provide the necessary nudges for you to choose healthy options."

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob launched a Healthy for Life initiative in Bukit Batok East yesterday, offering services such as health screenings and check-ups nearer residents' homes.

Older residents will receive more home visits by grassroots leaders and volunteer doctors and nurses to check on their health.

They will also get an interactive learning hub to show them practical features they can use to prevent falls at home, such as grab bars and non-slip floors.


- The Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) are working to integrate information and visual cues that promote healthy living at rest-stops along sheltered walkways, which connect transport hubs such as MRT and LRT stations and bus interchanges.

- The HPB is working with supermarket chains to come up with customised programmes and health screenings for employees.
- It is collaborating with the National Taxi Association and cab firms to introduce healthy lifestyle programmes for drivers.

- The HPB aims to more than halve tooth decay rates in seven-year-olds by 2020. It aims to introduce the oral care programme to 200 childcare centres in the next year, and cover all children in childcare centres within three years.

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