Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, reassures rice-loving Filipinos that she is not planning to file a bill to ban the serving of unlimited rice (unli rice) in restaurants and other food establishments.
“I am not planning to make a law banning ‘unli rice’, not at all. I just voiced out my concern that eating too much rice is one of the main causes of high blood sugar that leads to diabetes. But, of course, I cannot prevent people from eating unlimited amount of rice. It is their choice. It was just a genuine expression of concern on my part,” said Villar.
Villar led a Senate hearing on rice importation and other rice-related matters on Wednesday (June 14) and the topic was discussed during the course of the hearing and was also raised during the press conference after the public hearing.
She cited that in other countries, they promote a balanced diet consists of a small portion of rice and a generous amount of vegetables.
“In schools in Japan, the students even discuss the nutritional value of their meals for the day before they eat. They also harvest the vegetables they eat from the garden in their school. Of course, we want our children and children’s children to grow up healthy,” added Villar.
Villar has earlier urged the government departments such as the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Health (DoH) to align their programs in order to promote better nutrition and health among the young Filipinos.
“I have recommended to the government departments and they are doing it in some areas already to incorporate vegetable gardening in schools in the feeding program, for instance. They can also source the ingredients locally, particularly the perishable produce, to help the small farmers and cooperatives,” said Villar.
According to Villar, it will really be difficult to stop Filipinos from eating rice as the Philippines is a nation or rice eaters. But to decrease health risks, cutting down on rice is still a good idea.
Based on a study, eating one plate of white rice everyday increases the risk of developing diabetes by 11 percent. Health experts also recommend adding 20% of brown rice to the daily white rice consumption; it can reduce the risk of diabetes by around 16%. Rice cause an increase in the level of sugar in the blood, which makes pancreas produce more insulin and cause frequent spikes in blood sugar level leading to diabetes. When not managed, diabetes may cause organ malfunction leading to death.