eToyBox: Online Learning Platform to Address Childhood Obesity

By Murniati Abu Karim
Photo Mohd Shahril Dzulkiflee

Kuala Lumpur, October 28, 2023 – In an effort to combat childhood obesity issues in Malaysia, the first Malay-language online learning platform, eToyBox, has been launched with the goal of transforming the landscape of early health education in the country.

Spearheaded by a dedicated team of researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Roehampton University, and Durham University, eToyBox aims to provide teaching materials for early childhood education on healthy living habits to preschool teachers.

eToyBox is developed as a result of the successful ToyBox Study Malaysia initiative aimed at maximizing the reach and impact of kindergarten-based healthy behaviour interventions across the country.

According to the Malaysia Project Leader for ToyBox Study Malaysia, Prof Dr Poh Bee Koon, the compatibility of the module content and the usability of the eToyBox platform have been evaluated and refined by nutrition experts and early childhood educators.

“With eToyBox, we are pioneering a transformative approach to combat childhood obesity by empowering educators with the necessary tools to cultivate healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviours among our preschoolers.

 “This initiative represents a crucial step forward in our mission to instil lifelong wellness practices from an early age, thereby shaping a healthier future for our nation’s youth,” said Prof Dr Poh, who is also Chair of the UKM Health and Advanced Medicine Research Cluster.

She expressed unwavering enthusiasm for the eToyBox project, emphasizing its significant potential in fostering a culture of holistic health education in early childhood.

“eToyBox is not just a learning platform; it is a transformative tool empowering educator to champion healthy practices and combat childhood obesity.

“We are excited to witness its potential in reshaping the early childhood education landscape in Malaysia,” she said.

She explained that feasibility studies conducted on eToyBox have yielded promising results, demonstrating its potential to strengthen educators’ knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy in instilling healthy behavioural practices among their students.

eToyBox was launched at the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair (KLESF) 2023 by Pro Vice-Chancellor of Strategy and Corporate Development, Prof Dato’ Dr Roslee Rajikan.

In his speech, he emphasized the significance of the project for the university and its potential impact on the community.

“We are proud to be a part of this transformative initiative. I believe that the eToyBox platform, is in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) for Good Health and Well-being and Goal 4 (SDG 4) for Quality Education.

“This initiative will significantly contribute to the well-being of our nation’s youth. Its innovative approach aligns with our commitment to fostering a healthier and more knowledgeable generation,” he said.

The initiative, which received substantial funding totalling approximately £500,000 (equivalent to about RM 2.6 million), from the United Kingdom Medical Research Council’s Newton-Ungku Omar Fund and Newton Fund Impact Scheme, and the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), is a collaborative effort between leading academic institutions in Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

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