All steamed up over nasi lemak

Straits Times, May 2, 2011

One popular food now is nasi lemak, especially among school children. It is a local delight, and is widely sold- you can find it in schools, hawker centres, and even in restaurants. However, some people feel that eating it is unhealthy, and has caused health problems, especially in primary schools. They say that the message is clear about the health problems it brings, since the direct translation of nasi lemak is “fatty rice”. The government has restricted stores to only sell it once or twice a week.

The government says that the nasi lemak causes more obese children in the country. However, students being obese may be due to the foods that they eat after school. For example, they would be obese if they visit fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, which contains more calories and fats than nasi lemak. Furthermore, there are currently many stalls that mainly sell nasi lemak, and if there is a sudden restriction on nasi lemak, many of these businesses and stores will lose a great amount of income, and this will result in a lot of these stores closing down. Consequently, there will be an increase in the unemployment rate, which will slow down the economical growth rate. If the government wants to ban nasi lemak, then other unhealthy foods such as roti prata should also be banned. Why do they need to single out nasi lemak?

In my opinion, it would be better to gradually reduce the amount of nasi lemak that can be sold per week- from twenty-four hours, seven days a week, to six and a half days, and then six and so on. I feel that this will slowly reduce the sale of nasi lemak, and give the storeowner more time to change what they sell, and give them a “warning” first before lowering the cost. The government should also increase the number of health campaigns and promote more healthy food, and give them the negative effects of nasi lemak and fast foods, to push them away from unhealthy food and towards healthy foodstuff. I think that that is a more effective way to reduce the obesity rate instead of immediately banning the unhealthy foods.


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.