It was recently reported that many Malaysians are taking to social media to complain about their weight gain during the Movement Control Order
Released last month, the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS 2019) found that half of the Malaysian population was too fat
With a study sample of almost 15,000 people from across all states, the NHMS 2019 found that a concerning 50.1%of adults in Malaysia were either overweight (30.4%) or obese (19.7%).
These four-yearly surveys run by the Institute for Public Health show that the prevalence of being overweight and obesity in Malaysia has been steadily increasing over the years. Compared to 2015, the prevalence was 48.6%.
Children are also not spared from the issue. Almost one-third (29.8%) of Malaysian children between the ages of five and 17 are overweight (15.0%) or obese (14.8%).
The NHMS 2019 also revealed that overweight and obesity levels were particularly high among women (54.7%), ethnic Indians (63.9%), and those aged 55 to 59 (60.9%).
Worryingly, the survey also found that one in five Malaysian adults, or 3.9 million people, suffer from diabetes
According to Malay Mail, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, who presented the NHMS 2019 findings, said that the prevalence of diabetes has increased to 18.3%, compared to only 13.4% recorded in 2015.
"The rise in the number of diabetes cases in Malaysia is among the worrying findings in the NHMS 2019. About 49% of diabetics in Malaysia have never been screened or diagnosed with the disease," he said.
It was also clear that Malaysians generally did not lead healthy lifestyles.
Dr Adham added that based on the survey, one in four adults aged 16 and above in Malaysia were not physically active.
Furthermore, it was found that 95% of adults in Malaysia did not consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables and fruits.
These are the main reasons why Malaysia's life expectancy has been stuck at 75 years for the past one decade
Obesity and the chronic diseases that it can lead to such as diabetes, kidney failure, and heart disease have been contributing to premature deaths in the country.
However, obesity can be prevented with some simple lifestyle changes.
In an interview with Bernama, Universiti Putra Malaysia public health expert Dr Norliza Ahmad said that factors contributing to obesity can be classified into four categories, namely food, physical activity, environment, and genetics.
"The two main factors are food and physical activity," she said.
"Basically, if food intake is not accompanied by energy expenditure through physical activities, the excess energy is stored as fat in the body," she explained.
The other factors that contribute to obesity are diseases, stress, and medicines, she said. However, these factors are usually not within a person's control.