Obesity – why the rising epidemic? 

The news is out, folks! Malaysia is officially the fattest country in the whole region! The numbers of obese Malaysians tripled over the past 15 years, from 4% in 1996 to 14% in 2010. What is even more distressing is that the rate of childhood obesity has also been growing at an alarming rate and is now one of the most common nutritional problems globally!

Frightening Figures!

  • 2 in 5 adults are overweight or obese
  • Almost 30% of primary school children (7 – 12 years old) are overweight and obese
  • 16% of preschool children (4 – 6 years old) are overweight and obese

The main risk factors that result in overweight and obesity include:

  • Poor eating habits – eating meals that are not balanced; diets that are high in calories, sugar and fat.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle habits – sedentary lifestyles; lack of or no physical activity.

But, these risk factors are preventable.

If you have family members who are overweight / obese, you have a higher chance of becoming obese. However, it does not mean that you cannot prevent or decrease the severity of this epidemic.

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors to a number of chronic lifestyle diseases. Being overweight itself increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar. Overweight and these other risk factors then lead to diseases such as:

  • Diabetes;
  • Stroke;
  • Heart diseases;
  • Cancers.

In recent years, there are more children who are overweight and obese and because of this more of them are suffering from diseases such as diabetes at early age.

Don’t be another statistic; prevention can be as easy as being more active and eating healthily. Start being active today by walking up and down the stairs more often at your office every day. Better still, aim for 10,000 steps daily! Send your children for swimming, taekwondo or dancing classes, or take them to the park for a fun game of basketball, badminton or skipping. Even doing some household chores together, eg washing the car, can be a great workout for the whole family.

Also, don’t forget to watch what you eat. Even if you exercise, you should continue to take meals that are low in fat, sugar and salt. Use the Malaysian Food Pyramid as a guide to consume a more balanced diet. Remember, use healthier cooking styles like steaming, boiling, baking or grilling, and avoid deep-frying whenever possible.