According to The Straits Times, The Health Promotion Board (HPB) will be kicking off a campaign by the end of this month, to create greater awareness among Singapore parents on the nutritional needs of children. The campaign will involve advertising, brochures for hospitals, social media efforts etc.
HPB chief executive Zee Yoong Kang has been quoted by The Straits Times as saying, "While breast milk is best, we recognise that parents have good reasons to resort to formula milk. In that context, we have to reassure them that standard milk is sufficient, and provide more information on how to build a strong dietary foundation for kids, including weaning," he said.
Here is what is significant about this campaign:
- HPB will be working with organisations such as the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation to create more breastfeeding-friendly workplaces for mothers.
There will also be increased focus on creating awareness, not just on the benefits of breastfeeding, but also on the nutritional composition of formula milk.
- According to the Competition Commission of Singapore's report, 95 % of formula milk sales in 2015 comprised sales of "premium" and speciality milk, with "standard milk", which costs less than half the price, constituting just 5 % of the sales.
- It has been reported that Dr Annie Ling, director of HPB's policy, research and surveillance division, analysed the nutritional labels of eight Stage 2 formula (for babies older than 6 months) brands on shelves in Singapore.
She did not find many "nutritional" differences between the various brands. The only differences found were in the quantities of supplemental nutrients like DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid important for the development of the brain, nervous system and eyes.
Focus more on infant diet in Singapore
Importantly, Dr. Ling opines that, "While milk is still important for key nutrients after six months, the focus should shift towards complementary food." She also emphasised that, "Parents should look towards building a balanced and nutritious diet for their children."
Here are the reasons why parents should focus more on infant diet in Singapore:
- Milk alone is inadequate after 6 months: Dr Chua Mei Chien, head of KK Women's and Children's Hospital's Neonatology Department, tells The Straits Times that, it is important to start the infant on weaning foods after 6 months, so that his varying nutritional needs, especially those of iron, can be met. Milk on its own is inadequate to meet the nutritional needs of infants aged between 6 and 12 months.
- Proper weaning is essential: Delayed weaning, and an over reliance on milk can lead to poor eating habits and developmental issues later on. There are many low cost weaning foods rich in DHA, protein and other essential nutrients. Dr. Chua has also opined that parents should try a variety of weaning foods and the emphasis should be on increasing the frequency of solids as the infant grows from 6 to 12 months, together with a corresponding decrease in milk intake.
- Over reliance on milk can lead to constipation or diarrhoea: Infants who rely on milk as their primary source of nutrition after 6 months, may also experience health issues like constipation or diarrhoea depending on the milk's composition, and their body's tolerance levels.
Also READ: What mums are saying about rising formula milk prices in Singapore!
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