Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday Star: Food Fat-ish

Did any of you read the Star newspaper yesterday. The headlines read "Food Fat-ish" and it was basically about Malaysians and their unhealthy eating habits. When i first read the article, they were taking aim at the mamak stalls for being open 24 hours. In my mind i was thinking, Oh boy, here we go again... the same old argument...blame the mamak and McDonalds for people making the wrong choices in food. To me, if you are blaming the Mamak for being there 24 hours a day, then you are barking up the wrong tree. Well they didn't totally take the piss of the mamaks, but just highlighted some statistics about Malaysians being obese.

Then as i read further, i came across the nutrition table and my eyes almost popped out. This is a national news paper with a huge circulation and i can't believe what they were saying. There are 3 major points that i disgree with, so i will post them up here 1 by 1 for you guys.

1) Roti Canai is 301 kCal and Chapatti is 300 kCal
Now i don't know about you guys, but that number just seems wrong to me. Have you seen how they make Roti Canai? You make it with refined flour, margarine and loads of oil. While you are pressing it out, you bathe it with more oil. When you cook it, you flood it with even more oil. Now i have seen these stats before in other places, and i am still baffled with how a roti canai can only be a mere 1 calorie more than chapatti... i mean seriously. Even with white bread and whole meal bread, there is a difference of almost 20 calories... and the oil spilt roti canai vs the dry chapatti is only 1 calorie? Does anyone know the explanation for this?

2) Murtabak 231 kCal and roti canai 301 kCal
Wooohh.... have you seen how they make murtabak? They take your roti canai (whole thing), add in chicken pieces, egg and onions and then cook it. Now, how in the hell did adding more ingredients make the murtabak have less calories than the plain old roti canai? It's like a bowl of plain rice will have more calories than a bowl of fried rice with all the ingredients dumped in.
Come on guys, at least check your figures before you blast it out like that. Now i thought maybe they are refering to some small murtabak, but nope, the weight of an average roti canai is 95g while the murtabak is 146g. so the murtabak is heavier than your roti canai. So how the hell did it miraculously lose 70 calories after you added ingredients? Mind blowing. i need to learn this recipe.

3) They had a table that showed how many calories you should be consuming.
OK granted, it is just a recommendation, and it should not be caste in stone. But 1 major thing they failed to highlight (which is probably the most important) was the level of activity. Meaning, when you recommend 2,400kCal a day for an individual between the age of 30 to 50, what kind of activity level are we talking about? Sleeps all day, watch TV all day, or moderately active, or super workout junkie or construction worker. My point is, just flashing out the number 2400 is really quite pointless and has little meaning. Now if you are a pretty active individual and try to follow this recommendation, you could be starving yourself of nutrients. I know all of you will be saying, its meant for the average joe... but how much activity does an average joe do? well they could have easily added in a 1 liner that says moderately active, with abaout 20 minutes of physical activity a day or something. this would have helped to put things in perspective, rather than just flashing a number. Its like saying 85kg is overweight... not if you are 6'5" and a body builder with 8% body fat. See what i mean? Just flashing a number doesn't make sense.

Anyway, thats just some thoughts that i wanted to share with all of you. I don't have anything against the Star newspaper, but i just thought that somebody needs to put things in perspective. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments on this... especially on point number 1, coz i am curious as to how they got those figures.


ian yusof said...

totally agree with you. we are so left behind in terms of 'health & fitness'-related reporting. Thank God that we have a fitness&health blog like this. :)

keep up your good work!

Lexis Excellence said...

I'm glad you caught this and it's given me an excellent idea.

This is the Sunday paper, right?

I'll start up a regular post on my blog where I reply to the health section of the Sunday paper. I remember they had HIT in there once (high intensity training), mentioned in the back of Fitness Science level 1.

Remind me on Saturday to do this. I'll get regular posts going. You can handle the current topics. Daily Dummy will tell us how to bake cookies and delete comments. Everyone's got their part!

Jazlyn said...

i always opt for chapati instead of roti canai .. is it healthier then?

Rajan said...

Ian: Thanks for the vote of confidence. What worries me is the information that people are following blindly.... what more when it comes from the newspaper.

Lexis: Yup... Sunday Star paper. OK will remind you this week to about getting a copy of the Star.

BTW, H.I.T seems to be a big hit among body builders in this country... its like basic training for all body builders.

Jazlyn: For me, Chapati is still the healthier option and i think those figures are wrong.... unless someone can prove me wrong.... till then, my money is with Chapati.

Irfan said...

Theres marjerin in the chapatti lahhh!!! Dont you know that???

Rajan said...

Irfan: I never said chapati doesnt have margarine but thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

It certainly is a little puzzling when dealing with caloric values for local foods.

You might be interested to check out some sites that provide such information, such as Nutriweb, provided by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia:

Bear in mind, serving sizes are given in vague measurements. And nutritionists aren't the same as dietitians.

Another interesting source would be, and its entries for Roti Canai, Roti Capati and Mutton Murtabak are as follows:

I found these sites after a very quick search. I can't verify the accuracy of what you can find on these sites, but its interesting to see the information listed.

I certainly hope you're able to find some solid answers for the very good questions raised!

anfield devotee said...

Erm . . . And this is the only morsel of information that deviates from the truth in The Star?

Kasey Brown Fitness said...

Gak!! That reminds me... I forgot to pick up today's paper! UGH!

I'll get one and do a post tomorrow I guess. Rajan you were supposed to remind me!

Rajan said...

Anonymous: Thanks for sharing those sites. Truly appreciate it.

AD: Mmmmm.... Well i am posting this since its about fitness... political views... mmmm... maybe i should start another blog for that.

Kasey: Dude, Totally slipped my mind. Damn it. I've got a copy... let me scan through and see if there is anything interesting to share.