Obesity, Diabetes, Cholesterol, Hypertension

One in two Malaysian adults is either overweight or obese, with the number increasing by four-fold in the last 20 years.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said Malaysians are facing a health problem due to their unhealthy lifestyle. "A national health and morbidity survey shows that obesity is prevalent among Malaysians above 18, with the numbers drastically rising."

"The number of obesity cases in 1996 was 4.4% (of the population), rising to 14% in 2006. This rose to 15.1% in 2011 and 17.7% last year," he said in his speech when opening the Fruits and Vegetables Eating Campaign at Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism 2016 (MAHA 2016) here Tuesday.

He added some 30.3% of adults suffered weight problems. As a whole, one in two Malaysian adults is overweight or one in five is obese.

"In 2015, nearly half of Malaysian adults or 47.7% suffered from high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia," he said.

Dr Subramaniam said an unhealthy lifestyle had also resulted in the number of diabetes cases in Malaysia to rise since 1996. "The disease will not be seen now but in 15 years when they come to hospital and end up losing an eye or having a limb amputated," he added.

The survey also revealed that diabetes cases rose from 11.6% in 1996 to 15.2% in 2006 and 17.5% last year.

However, he said there was a slight drop in hypertension cases - from 32.2% in 1996 to 32.7% in 2006 and 30.3% last year.

He noted that these ailments are linked to the unhealthy dietary habits of Malaysians who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

"Only 6% of Malaysian adults take enough fruits and vegetables, or two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables as suggested by the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010," he said.

He said that those who consume more greens and fruits are less susceptible to cancer, by between 5% and 12%.

Dr Subramaniam said the Government has introduced several awareness campaigns and programmes to encourage Malaysians to eat more fruits and greens. This includes the Healthy Cafeteria programme to get food operators to offer more fruits and greens on their menu.

He added that the National Plan of Action on Nutrition Malaysia III, covering 2016 to 2025, will ensure healthier eating habits by Malaysians.

At a press conference later, Dr Subramanian said a survey will be conducted in five years to see how effective the healthy diet campaigns have been.

/theSTAR 07-12-2016

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