“Get smart” by popping pills…really?

What would you think if you found out the school your child goes to is promoting pills which can supposed make your child smarter and better behaved to boot? Well that’s exactly what was exposed here late last month. Some schools in various states in Malaysia had been promoting these “get smart” Dimensi 108 pills to their students, more so of lately in light of the upcoming primary school national examination scheduled to start on September 9. Sceptical and rightfully concerned parents lodged complaints with the Health Ministry.

Sold at RM5 per pack of 20 tablets, these “supplements” are purported to makes students smarter. In addition, they are also supposedly behavior-altering – making children more obedient, hardworking, and resistant to illnesses. Wow! Sound wonderful doesn’t it? If only it were that easy, affordable, and risk-free. The distributors of these pills of course insist their product is absolutely safe for consumption and considered a food supplement. They claim they’ve been authorized to distribute the pills to schools since 2010 with schools noting improvement in performance in national examinations since then.

Not surprisingly, investigations into this serious matter revealed that the company faked the product classification letter by the Health Ministry and endorsement letters from the Malaysian Federation of the Council of Headmasters (GMGBM).

Nagging questions in my head:

1. Would you give such pills to your child?
Being a mother myself, I strive to provide the best for my son. However, I would not (at least in the current frame of mind) even consider feeding my son any supplements which will supposedly make him smarter, let alone alter his behavior. What drugs must it contain to be able to perform these “miracles”? I wouldn’t want to expose him to risks of the side effects from consuming such supplements.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not intending to mock other parents here. I’m sure there are reasons why some parents chose to give these tablets to their children even though the whole thing smelled fishy from the get-go. But hey, it’s been recommended by the school and many parents trust these institutions to guide them and their children because they don’t know any better. Also, which parent will not want to see their children excel in school? The scary part is no alarms bells went off for some of them when they were told these pills have the ability to change their children’s behavior too. Is it possible that in our hope to have smart, well-behaved children, when this type of “opportunity” arises, we lose sight of the truth?

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) found the tablets contain hardly anything more than sugar. I’m relieved to hear this for the sake of the children who’ve been consuming these “wonder” pills. Good that they’ve just been high on sugar and not any harmful drugs or substance that could adversely affect or even ruin their lives in the long run.

Thankfully these candy-like “super” pills were proven to contain mostly sugar and not any harmful substance.
(Picture courtesy of The Star Online)

2. Should schools promote such “supplements”?
I can’t help but dwell on why this matter got this far in the first place. The schools should have been the first blocking point. It’s just not right for educational institutions to promote supplements of any kind. What were they thinking? Since this is absolutely out-of-norm, shouldn’t they have been the first to get the authenticity of these pills verified by the relevant authorities?

In conclusion
Let us not get conned by dubious claims of irresponsible profit-seekers. Always remember the saying, “When something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.”

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