PETALING JAYA: Malaysians, besides being weighed down by obesity and diabetes, according to an Oxfam International report on worldwide food quality, also consumed food of poor nutritional diversity.
The just released research by the UK-based poverty and disaster relief group ranked Malaysia 44th out of a list of 125 countries.
(The higher a score on the index, the worse a country stands.)
Titled the Good Enough to Eat Index, it showed that Malaysia scored 76 out of a possible 100 under the diet diversity category, indicating that while food was ample in Malaysia, these food choices however are not nutritionally diverse.
Food affordability also seemed to be a problem for Malaysia, with the country scoring a higher-than-average mark of 57 in terms of price levels.
These levels, according to Oxfam, were relative to other goods and services.
The tendency for food prices to fluctuate was however low, with Malaysia coming in with a score of 14.
Malaysia was also found to be on the lower rung of the obesity and diabetes categories, scoring 29 and 37 respectively.
According to reports, about 2.6 million Malaysians aged 18 and above were diabetics. This number is projected to hit 4.5 million by 2020.
Malaysia has also been ranked the fattest country in South-East Asia and the sixth in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Although the research found that Malaysians did not suffer from any undernourishment, it showed a number of children were underweight, with a score of 28.
The country also shared its 44th overall placing with six other countries: Maldives, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Moldova, Russia and Chile.
In South-East Asia, Malaysia came in second behind Thailand, which ranked 42nd worldwide.
Its neighbours, The Philippines (67th), Vietnam (71st), Indonesia (83rd) and Laos (112nd) followed.
Singapore and Myanmar were not included in the list.
“Despite the huge technological advances of modern times, we are still failing to provide people with the basic sustenance they need to survive and eat healthily,” an Oxfam statement said.
In comparison, the Netherlands was ranked first as the country with the most nutritious and healthy food.
African nation Chad, on the other hand, at 125th, was found to have had expensive food with little nutritional value.