Half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, says report

Updated 09 March 2013
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Half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, says report

WASHINGTON: US companies that have made attempts to reverse the nation’s rising childhood obesity rate are starting to see results as more American kids exercise and have better access to healthy foods, they said recently. More than 1,700 US cities have promoted exercise to get nearly 3 million more kids moving in the last year, according to a report by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit organization.
Still, if left unchecked, about half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, according to the group.
Some health advocates welcomed the findings but said more effort was still needed, including government action.
Already, one in three US youth are obese and another third are overweight. Experts are worried because heavier children are more likely to remain overweight as adults, and suffer a higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
“We’re seeing pockets of progress toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“For progress to reach every corner of our country, we must redouble our efforts: parents, schools, nonprofit organizations, government at all levels, and the private sector.”
Childhood obesity carries significant healthcare related costs and even poses national security risks, experts say, by reducing the pool of those fit for military service.
Some of the partner companies have pledged to change food offerings on restaurant menus or work to get more children into activities like soccer or tennis, according to the group, which released the report as part of its annual conference in Washington that also headlined First Lady Michelle Obama.
The group has said it wants to help 10 million Americans gain access to healthier foods, saying 23.5 million people in the United States — including 6.5 million children — have no nearby access to options like fresh produce or cannot afford to buy it.
Already, 141 grocery stores have been built or renovated in so-called “food deserts,” often low-income urban neighborhoods without nearby grocery stores, helping more than a half-million people, it said.
“In places like Philadelphia, New York City and Mississippi - places where folks from every sector are working together — we’ve seen childhood obesity rates begin to come down,” said Obama, who has made tackling obesity her signature issue while in the White House.
Fruits and vegetables, meat and other whole foods can often be more expensive than processed ones that contain subsidized ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.
Some health experts have been critical of the food industry for offering unhealthy products. Manufacturers have long pointed to consumer choice, but many have begun to change their offerings in recent years as more US consumers become health conscious.


Call to ban foreign cooks in Malaysia elicits mixed reactions

Updated 25 June 2018
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Call to ban foreign cooks in Malaysia elicits mixed reactions

  • The government has rowed back from Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran’s call saying it was “merely a suggestion,” and it will “consult various stakeholders.”
  • Some 250,000 foreign workers are employed in service industries in Malaysia, including restaurants, hawker stalls and cafes.

KUALA LUMPUR: There are mixed reactions from restaurant and food stall owners across Malaysia to a call by Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran to ban foreign cooks by Jan. 1, 2019.

The government has since changed its tone, on Saturday saying the call was “merely a suggestion,” and it will “consult various stakeholders.”

Some 250,000 foreign workers are employed in service industries in Malaysia, including restaurants, hawker stalls and cafes.

Kulasegaran’s call came amid government attempts to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country.

Adrian Pereira, director of the North South Initiative, a non-profit that promotes the rights of migrant workers in Malaysia, wants the government to engage with all stakeholders to ensure rights-based approaches that are backed by market data.

“We mustn’t forget that there’s a huge informal sector that also hires migrants as cooks,” he said.

“We can’t assign nationality to the work. Once we go down this road, in future work will also discriminate against color, religion etc.”

Suhaila owns a food stall that serves local Malay dishes. She hires only Indonesian cooks, who have been working for her family’s stall for more than a decade.

“They already know how to cook the local dishes, and the food tastes good. There’s no difference,” Suhaila told Arab News, adding that she does not mind employing Malaysians as waiters, but not the cooks as they are her “main source of income.”

She disagrees with Kulasegaran’s call, saying not all local cooks can cook local dishes. She said she once hired a local cook, but the dishes were not as tasty as those made by her Indonesian cooks.

Hamid Khalid, owner of the restaurant Nasi Kandar Arraaziq, agrees with a ban, telling Arab News that he does not hire foreign cooks because customers prefer to eat food made by Malaysians.

But Khalid, whose waiters are mostly foreign, complimented foreign workers for their hard work and low labor cost.

Alex Lee owns the Smokehouse Restaurant, which serves mainly British food. He employs mostly Malaysian cooks, and one foreigner who works as a sous chef.

“From a protectionist and job-security point of view, I think it (a ban) is idiotic,” Lee told Arab News, adding that most food business owners constantly face a shortage of workers.

It is the responsibility of restaurant owners, not the government, to preserve local food’s authenticity, said Lee, cautioning the government against “short-sighted, faux-populist” policies.