Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Healthy Plate to replace food pyramid in Singapore textbooks

More fruit and vegetables on HPB's My Healthy Plate
New guide replaces Food Pyramid, gives portion sizes, healthier options
By Kash Cheong, The Straits Times, 12 Jul 2014

MORE than eight out of 10 Singaporeans do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.

To give them an idea as to what they should be consuming the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has launched My Healthy Plate - a guide that will be found in school textbooks and HPB leaflets.

It encourages people to fill half their mealtime plates with fruit and vegetables, a quarter with wholegrains, and another quarter with meat and protein. The educational tool urges people to use healthier oils, drink water instead of sugared drinks and stay active. It also asks people to consider the quality of carbohydrates and oils they consume, and the quantity.

My Healthy Plate will be used to educate primary and secondary school students on the importance of a healthy diet. It will replace the food pyramid diagram used previously to illustrate what constitutes a healthy meal.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, speaking at the guide's launch yesterday, said My Healthy Plate is "easier for people to relate to".

Although the proportion of fruit and vegetables on the plate is relatively larger than carbohydrates, HPB nutritionist Benjamin Lee said the board is recommending five to seven servings of carbohydrates and two servings each of fruit and vegetables a day.

The exaggerated proportion of vegetables on the plate is to "correct for Singaporeans' current dietary patterns", Mr Lee added.

Up to 85 per cent of adults here fall short of the recommended fruit and vegetable intake.

Singaporeans are also overconsuming unhealthy refined carbohydrates, which could be replaced with wholegrains that promote the feeling of fullness and reduce the chances of overeating.

Unlike the pyramid, which urged people to use less cooking oil, My Healthy Plate also encourages healthier options like peanut oil as seven out of 10 people here consume too much saturated fat.

A reminder to choose water over sugary drinks is on the plate because six out of 10 drink two or more sugary drinks a day, adding empty calories to their diet.

Communications executive Claudio Chock, 26, said: "The chances of youngsters in primary school not eating enough vegetables are quite high. It would not do much harm to remind them to eat more vegetables."

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