The Department of Health (DOH) is mulling regulations that would restrict the airing of fast food TV commercials to certain times to combat obesity.
The department’s Bureau of Health Promotion has been discussing how to tackle obesity at the International Conference on Obesity Prevention, which began on Tuesday and ends today.
Bureau of Health Promotion Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) told the conference that obesity had become one of the nation’s most difficult health problems to address.
The bureau said it was drafting a set of regulations that would govern the nutritional labeling of foods in restaurants as well as limit the content and presentation of advertisements for fast food and food with little nutritional value.
Measures could include requirements that all restaurants indicate the amount of calories and other nutritional value information for each dish on their menu, Chiou said. Other -regulations could include prohibiting TV commercials for fast food and junk food from airing during TV shows targeting children, as education on healthy eating habits should start at a young age, she said.
The director said that when parents watch TV with their children, they should set a good example by not encouraging children to try the junk food seen in advertisements. Parents should also show their children how to adopt healthy eating habits by eating healthy foods with them, she said.
Aside from overconsumption of junk food, lack of exercise among Taiwanese is another key cause of obesity, the bureau said.
A survey by the bureau of more than 20,000 men and women over the age of 18 found that in 2009, only 53.53 percent of respondents said they had exercised in the past two weeks. Data from 2005 showed that figure was 52.73 percent, leading the bureau to conclude that the nation had failed to improve in terms of encouraging regular physical exercise.
Bureau data showed that 44 percent of the adult population was overweight or obese, while about one in four children was overweight.
“In the country’s top 10 causes of death, seven are related to obesity,” Chiou said.
“Obesity and cigarette smoking have been identified as the most serious causes of chronic illness,” she said.
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