Schools pushing ‘magic pills’

The Star reports

Schools in several states have been “pushing” pills that supposedly make pupils cleverer.

The promoters also claim that the “get smart” pills, named Dimensi 108, which are marketed as food supplements, can alter children’s behaviour to make them more obedient and hard-working as well as resistant to illnesses.

Concerned parents from a school in Kuala Lumpur contacted The Star when the tablets were distributed to Year Six pupils earlier this week, saying their children were being forced to buy the pills.

One parent said she had asked her daughter to return the pills to the class teacher and refused to pay for them.

“When my daughter and a few of her friends returned the pills, the teacher told them not to blame her if they are tak pandai (not clever) in their UPSR (which starts on Sept 9).

“Can you believe that? The teacher is supposed to encourage the kids to work hard for their exams and not rely on some pills with so-called magical properties,’’ the outraged parent told The Star.

Another complainant, whose brother is studying at the school, has lodged a written complaint with the Health Ministry.

“A ministry official told me that they will look into the matter, and I have also sent pictures of the packaging of the pills with the ministry’s logo on it.

“I hope they will get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible because we need to know whether the product is legitimate or not,” said the complainant.

The school’s headmistress said parents had “misunderstood” the nature of the pills and it was not compulsory for pupils to buy them.

“We would not promote anything that is bad for the pupils … these are just like herbal supplements to help pupils concentrate and build energy for the upcoming examination.

“They have ingredients such as spirulina and red dates, which are known for their health-giving properties. I myself give them to my child near the examination period.

“The product also has the endorsement of the Malaysian Federation of the Council of Headmasters, meaning that it has been approved by the Health and Education ministries,” she said.

The headmistress claimed that the pills were supplied to the school by the council.

I am dumbfounded that a Headmistress could come up with statements like “just like herbal supplements to help pupils concentrate and build energy for the upcoming examination.”
Not only is it unethical for teachers to be pushing health products onto schoolkids, it’s downright misguided.

It’s the same old “just because it’s herbal means it’s natural and that means it’s safe and good for you’ fallacy.
Natural does not necessarily mean safe. There are problems with so-called natural supplements, and even Spirulina is no exception (see MMR post on Spirulina caution)

It’s also the same “it’s good for you” hard sell without any real evidence to back up their claims.

Endorsement by the Health ministry? If there is any endorsement it may mean only registration as a food supplement and no endorsement as to a ‘miracle mental pill’.

The only thing these pills are definitely good for are the bank balance of those who push them.

There is no short cut to good health – mental and physical – and that is a balanced diet, lots of fruits and veggies in particular, exercise, adequate sleep.