The Scary Truth About Obesity In Malaysia And How To Prevent It

obesity in malaysia

“About half of Malaysian citizens are at least overweight or obese,” Malaysian Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam was reported saying earlier this year. “That’s a figure that is too high.”

Malaysia has been coined as the leading country in Southeast Asia with the highest obesity population at 44.2%, and the percentage keeps increasing with time. Are those endless plates of nasi lemak and Maggi mee goreng to blame? Or do we also have our sedentary lifestyles and non-existent exercise routines to factor in?

So we chatted with Wendy Wong, a certified dietician who runs Salad Atelier, on the dangers of unhealthy eating, smart and convenient alternatives for healthy eating and how to prevent obesity from invading its way into your life.

How Does Obesity Occur?

It’s all about the activities that we do. Back in the 80s and 90s, kids were playing in parks and playgrounds. Now they’re holed up at home in front of the TV and iPad. They snack on processed junk food and parents don’t have time to properly monitor how their kids are living because they’re constantly at work.

So they store processed food at home, food that’s easy and quick to prepare in case someone gets hungry – instant noodles, frozen meals, cookies, which are high in carbs and sugar. And because of the hecticness at work, people aren’t cooking so much anymore. Eating out has eased its way into a daily routine because convenience has become a priority. Let’s not forget the emotional stress or extreme boredom that causes people to binge on unhealthy meals and snacks. All of this opens a door to obesity.

Can We Still Enjoy Our Favourite Malaysian Cuisines?

Yes, and while you don’t have to cut out your favourite dishes completely, pay close attention to the portions and ingredients If you’re preparing your own nasi lemak at home, you can replace the santan with full cream milk, which has much lesser fat compared to coconut milk. And instead of going for fried popiahs, opt for steamed ones instead, which are less greasy.

healthy plate infographic malaysia

How Should We Prevent Obesity Within Our Families?

Apart from obvious factors like eating healthy, avoiding junk food and incorporating daily exercise, parents should seriously start educating their children from a young age. Today’s kids have a high tolerance for saltiness, thanks to the high levels of salt that they are consuming, so parents should start implementing nutritious meals into their diet.

As for us adults, we should include at least two to three healthy meals each a week and cut down on processed food. Refer to the Healthy Plate infographic above to start planning your next healthy meal. Don’t forget to include heaps of vegetables, an adequate amount of protein and lesser carbs.

What Types Of Lifestyles Are At Risk For Obesity?

A lack of exercise and sleep contributes towards this unhealthy body weight. Your lack of sleep will affect your behaviour in the daytime, causing you to crave more sugar to keep your energy levels high, so your chances of snacking are higher. Smoking also causes obesity in the long run, because smokers tend to crave sweet things.

What’s The Best Calorie Intake For Sedentary Lifestyles?

If your idea of exercising is walking down the stairs from your bedroom to the kitchen – then you have a sedentary lifestyle, which is defined as one with little or irregular physical activity.  If that’s you, your optimum daily calorie intake is 1500 kcal if you’re a female and 2000 kcal if you’re a male. Anything beyond that will lead to an overconsumption of calories.

How Do Working Adults Continue To Eat Out While Eating Healthy?

“Scan the menu and try to get healthy drinks, or drinks without sugar. If you want something highly caloric, make it your first meal so you’ll have more time to digest. And when you eat out, try to separate your gravy and carbs so you can control your calories,” Wendy, the certified nutritionist said. “At mamaks, tosai, and naan are less fattening options than roti canai. And if you have high protein in the morning, you won’t crave for sweet food later. Those who take boiled eggs in the morning tend to have better sugar control.”

obesity health symptoms infographic malaysia

If we allow ourselves and our children to continue down this road, it’s going to be a very dangerous one, as you can see from the infographic above. So let’s start gearing ourselves towards a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

Start off by hiring a qualified personal trainer to coach you into performing the right exercises your body needs and cultivating an exercise habit. Getting someone to get you into the habit is key. Once you’re in the habit of exercising, it’s much harder to get out of it.

You can hire the right personal trainer on Kaodim through a few simple steps. Just log on to our site to submit a request and we’ll send you quotes and introductions from our trainers so you can compare rates, study their profiles,read testimonials from previous customers. Correspond with them to work out your requirements and finalise the engagement. Stop procrastinating.

Say no to obesity and unhealthy eating habits, and say yes to a healthier, leaner version of yourself!

written by Carissa Gan