One in three Brunei children overweight

James Kon

Brunei Darussalam has the highest obesity rates for children in ASEAN. One in three Bruneian children are overweight; one in six is physically active; and one out of every two children drinks soft drinks daily, according to statistics.

The Brunei Darussalam Key Indicator 2019 (BDKI) survey also showed that non- communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the country.

The growing concern of obesity among Bruneian children was highlighted yesterday at the first Children’s Obesity Awareness Day, organised by the Paediatric Department of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, with the support of Allied Health Professionals, Project Wonders, Cardio Club and ZerOnEight Mixed Martial Arts Academy.

The one-day event at Times Square Shopping Centre was part of the Paediatric Department’s mission in achieving the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) strategic plans of ‘Health is Everyones’s Business’ and ‘Prevent and Control Non-Communicable Diseases’.

Apart from the exhibition, physical exercises, quizzes and games were also held for members of the public.

A mixed martial arts demonstration by children during Childhood Obesity Awareness Day. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Paediatric Oncologist of Paediatric Department Dr Hajah Norehan binti Haji Johari told the Bulletin, “According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) survey, 14.1 per cent of Bruneian children aged between five and 19 are obese, which is the highest rate in Southeast Asia.”

She added, “Every day, we see referrals for obesity in our clinic. We hope to raise awareness among our community, especially for parents. If children are obese, there is a tendency for them to be obese when they reach adulthood.

“With obesity, there is an increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and so on. Therefore we want to prevent this before it happens. Most importantly, the public needs to realise that we can
stop obesity.

“One of the major contributing factors is fatty food. Children are not consuming the right quantity of healthy food, but eat too much fatty food.

“Secondly, most children spend too much screen time with gadgets and television these days. A child needs at least 60 minutes of exercise per day, which can be done throughout the day and not just in one go.”

Her message to the public: “Be aware that obesity is on the rise among children in this country, and that we as adults are responsible for our children, to make sure that they lead a healthy lifestyle.”