Runners pledge to #KurangManis because #ImSweetEnough

UNICEF Borneo Marathon make a sweet promise for better health

28 April 2019
Children cross the starting line

KOTA KINABALU, 27 April 2019 – Lisa Surihani, UNICEF National Ambassador in Malaysia will run alongside close to 11,000 runners at the UNICEF Borneo marathon to promote better nutrition with the theme #KurangManis because #ImSweetEnough. The marathon aims to promote healthy eating habits among children and adolescents by encouraging participants to “kurang manis” which means to reduce sugar intake.

“Let’s get our children off to a healthier start, by saying ‘Kurang Manis’ today for a sweeter tomorrow. Obesity and being overweight has a real effect on a child’s health. It affects their performance in school academically, socially, and their overall self-esteem. This in turn has repercussions on the development of the nation.” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF Representative in Malaysia. “This year, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we need to consider the health of our children today, and its impact to the country in the next 30 years. We all have a role to play in helping children eat healthier, grow up stronger, and reach their full potential. For every child, a healthy life.”

According to the World Health Organisation, obesity among children aged between 5 to 19 years old in Malaysia is the second highest in the ASEAN region, after Brunei. Consumption of sugary drinks is a major contributor, filled with free sugars, calories and no nutritional value, their consumption amongst children and adolescents is growing.  Data from the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017 shows that one in three adolescents drink a can of soda at least once a day and consume an average of 10 teaspoons of sugar a day -  4 spoons more than the recommended amount for adults. Children and adolescents need to eat healthily and regularly, in order to help them reach their nutritional goals.

In the lead up to the marathon, the UNICEF Borneo Marathon team organised a series of ‘Healthy Eating Habits’ events in twelve schools across Kota Kinabalu and Tamparuli in Sabah which reached close to 8,600 students.

Dexter, aged 14 said “I now understand the importance of decreasing my sugar intake and I will pay more attention to eating fruits and vegetables every day.” Another student, Liew, aged 10 said, “I will tell my mum to eat less sugar, because she has a sweet tooth, and I want to make sure she eats healthy every day.”

“Borneo Marathon is pleased to partner with UNICEF for the third year, carrying meaningful campaigns that addresses pressing issues for the country. Our 800 or so volunteers will be assisting participants towards their mission in running for a healthier eating habits and improved lifestyle” said Datuk Dr. Heng Aik Cheng, President, Kinabalu Running Club. “For the past 12 years, our runners have contributed to more than 20 charitable organizations around Sabah. It’s a great community event that grows every year!”

Lisa Surihani, UNICEF National Ambassador in Malaysia alongside children with and without disabilities will run a 3km route together with their friends and families to promote #KurangManis for better health.

UNICEF together with WHO is partnering with the Government of Malaysia on policy measures and public awareness to improve the nutrition status of children in Malaysia to create a healthier society.



Note to editors:

According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017:

  • One in three adolescents consume soda at least once a day.
  • Adolescents’ average daily sugar consumption has increased to 10 teaspoons compared to 7 teaspoons in 2012.
  • 7 in 10 adolescents skip breakfast regularly (6 days or more a week), and the main reason given (by 44%) was because they had no appetite.
  • 70% of adolescents consume heavy meals (e.g. fried chicken, nasi lemak) after 10pm 1-6 days a week.
  • 92% of adolescents consume inadequate amounts of vegetables daily.

#KurangManis because #ImSweetEnough is a call to eat healthily and regularly, in order to help children and adolescents reach their nutritional goals.

About the Borneo Marathon

The first marathon in Sabah was held in 1984 and it was called the Daily Express Sabah Marathon. The next marathon was held 23 years later in 2008 and was called the Borneo Marathon (BM). The BM is organized by Kinabalu Running Club, registered under registration of sports association (ROSA) under the Sports Commission.

For more information:

Media Contacts

Rachel Choong

Communications Officer (Media)

UNICEF Malaysia

Tel: +60124162872


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