Obesity in Malaysia

05 February 2018

The increasing alarming trend of obesity in Malaysia has become a burden to the county. It is worrying to see the trend rising each year. Urbanization is the main contribution to the increasing incidence of obesity in Malaysia.  Malaysia has been ranked as number 1 as the fattest county in the South East Asia. It is reported about 30% of Malaysians are overweight and 17.7% are obese which makes up about half of the Malaysian population are unhealthy. This number will lead to an increase in incidence of non-communicable disease like (diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia) and increasing the mortality rate in Malaysia.

 Obesity is defined as excessive or accumulation of fat that presents a risk to health. It is measured by using a simple index using weight-for-height that is commonly used called Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is defined as a person’s weight in kg divided by height in meter. A BMI of more than 25kg/m2 is considered overweight or obese.

So how can someone become obese? The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories intake and calories output. Increase in calories consume especially diet with energy-dense foods that are high in fat and increase in physical inactivity causing energy imbalance that results in excessive calorie accumulation in the form of fat cells that leads to obesity.

The causes of obesity include unhealthy food choices and unbalanced diet. Because we are so caught up with daily hectic schedule, we want everything to settle fast. Malaysian tend to resort to buy food that readily available, fast, tasty and less fussy for example fast food. One can order fast food from a drive thru or even delivery. Fast food is high calorie food with low nutrient content. Another habit that Malaysian does is snacking. People snacking all the time be it while watching TV, movies, driving or even while sitting in your office. It’s totally normal but the choices of snack made a whole lot differences.

A well balanced diet consist of carbohydrates, protein, fiber and fat and the amount are according to the recommended by nutritionist. Most people don’t really follow the food portion that are required by the body that you eat larger portion.

Other causes of obesity are sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity. Many people have job that involved sitting at a desk for most of the days. They are also relying on their cars rather than walking or cycling to work. After long hours of working, people tend to watch TV and play online video games to relax and not physically active. If you are not active enough, you are not using the extra energy that is consumed and leads to obesity.

Obesity is not only affecting your appearance cosmetically that may have cause social stigmatization, it is also a chronic condition that may lead to catastrophic complication. When a person is obese or overweight, excess fat cells will release chemical that disrupt the body chemical signaling pathway and affects the metabolism. One of the chemical that are being released into blood is insulin. Insulin helps in converting sugar from carbohydrates into energy that can be used by the body. However when one’s is obese, excess fat cell will stimulate the production of insulin. When there are too much insulin the body become insensitive towards insulin causing insulin resistance that leads to diabetes.

Excess fat cells will stimulate inflammation to the cell. Continuous inflammation will produce an oxidative stress that injured the body cell.  Continuous injury to the cell will cause the body cell try to reprogrammed and repair themselves that sometimes will lead to uncontrolled cell division that leads to cancer. Obesity also causes many health complications such as gall stone, sleep apnoea and snoring, arthritis and depression.

A diet in high fat and sugar builds up cholesterol in your blood that promotes the formation of cholesterol plaque in your artery. This causes narrowing of the arteries and results in cardiovascular diseases. Extra weights can also a strain and damaging joints especially knee joint which increases the risk of arthritis.

Here’s a few ways how you can achieve a healthy weight. It is important to control your food portion. It might be hard at first because you are used to have that extra rice with asam pedas for your lunch but always remember this rule. ½ plate for vegetable and fruits, ¼ for protein and another ¼ for carbohydrates. Avoid skipping meals because when you starve yourself, you will eat extra portion on your next meal. Opt for a healthy diet. Cut down sugar and fats and eat more vegetable and fruits that are rich with fiber that reduces the intake and absorption of fats. Regular physical activity is a must because it will help in losing weight, burn excess calorie and building up muscles. Don’t forget to rehydrate yourself because water accelerates fat burning, eliminate waste products, alleviate constipation and help you to feel fuller faster. Avoid stress, get enough sleep don’t forget your yearly health checkup.  Remember eat healthy, be healthy.

Concerned with the alarming trend of obesity in Malaysia, Putra Specialist Hospital (Melaka) Sdn Bhd (PSHMSB) with collaboration with few organization has taken an initiative to bring a holistic approach to curb and solve the obesity problem in the community.  PSHMSB collaborated with Sekolah Berasrama Penuh (SBP) around Melaka and Muar to give an exposure to these youngster regarding obesity so that the issues of obesity can be curb early. The students were given with a brief talk regarding obesity, a session with dietitian of PSH to give an overview how to eat healthily followed by a cooking demo and a demo how to do the correct exercises given by the physiotherapist.


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