Lifestyle changes are necessary for diabetes prevention, advises the experts behind Nutrition Month Malaysia.
This year’s Nutrition Month Malaysia (NMM) fair was launched by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi bin Haji Yahaya at the Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya, Selangor.
Back for the 14th consecutive year, the theme for this year’s programme is “Eat Right, Move More: Prevent Diabetes from Young”, in recognition of the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes amongst Malaysians.
At the launch, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi said: “In 2011, the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) revealed that about 2.6 million Malaysians suffer from diabetes. The prevalence in the 2006 NHMS was 11.6%, which had increased to 15.2% in the 2011 – this figure represents an increase of more than half a million Malaysians.
“In the past, diabetes was only common amongst those above 50 years of age. However, there is a worrying trend that was revealed in the latest NHMS statistics – there are diabetics even amongst those in their 20s.”
He added: “Diabetes is a preventable chronic disease, and all it takes is to make better lifestyle choices, which is why it saddens me to see so many Malaysians leading a less than healthy lifestyle.
“Day by day, we have become less active and often indulge in unhealthy foods. These are the main culprits for the increase in the incidence of obesity among Malaysians, which in turn is a major risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
“For those already diabetic, it becomes even more apparent that they should lead a healthy lifestyle as this can help them manage the disease better, to delay or even prevent complications from developing.”
At the event, Prof Emeritus Dr Mohd Ismail Noor, vice president of Nutrition Society of Malaysia, pointed out that the severity of type 2 diabetes should not be underestimated as it is partly responsible for the increase in premature and preventable deaths in Malaysia.
“Effects of uncontrolled diabetes can be quite gruesome. It can lead to loss of limbs, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye complications such as blindness. It’s not only a burden to the individual, it also weighs heavily on the family, society, and the whole nation in general,” he noted.
In line with the efforts of the government to combat diabetes, Dr Mohd Ismail explained that the NMM’s main objective is to raise public awareness on type 2 diabetes as well as to highlight the importance of healthy eating and regular physical activity as keys to prevent the disease.
The four-day fair was an educational and interactive event where the public could learn more about type two diabetes as well as its prevention.
Keeping true to the event’s primary objective to educate and raise awareness, free health checks (blood glucose, blood cholesterol, blood pressure test, body composition analysis and others), health talks and dietary advice by trained professionals were arranged for members of the public. The event also showcased many other activities by sponsors.
Apart from that, various educational materials were distributed to the public. This included the annual NMM publication, a diabetes guidebook entitled Eat Healthy, Stay Active: Prevent and Manage Diabetes.
The book attempts to equip readers with the appropriate knowledge and tools to prevent diabetes, as well as a section on diabetes care.
Other than that, a series of educational press articles have been published on selected newspapers and magazines throughout the months of March, and will continue till June.
The articles comprise an overall view of diabetes, how to live well with diabetes, tips on how to cope and ways to prevent and manage the disease.
NMM also uses digital media to spread nutrition messages to reach out to more young people.
The public can access past publications, press media, updates on nutrition tips and facts as well as photos of past NMM events through NMM’s Facebook page or NMM’s website.
The programme, an annual initiative since 2002, is the collaborative effort of three professional bodies, namely the Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM), Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA) and the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity (MASO).
The project also receives support from the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), particularly the Nutrition Division.
Also in association with the aforementioned professional bodies, are several corporate sponsors whose effort and support were crucial in making Nutrition Month Malaysia 2015 a success.
The sponsors include Legosan (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd, Nestle Products Sdn Bhd, Serba Wangi Sdn Bhd and Yakult (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
For more information or to obtain educational materials produced by the Nutrition Month Malaysia 2015, contact the secretariat at tel (03) 5632 3301/5637 3526, drop by Nutrition Month Malaysia’s Facebook Page or visit www.nutritionmonthmalaysia.org.my.