MAKE exercise a culture in our lives, not just a recreational activity that we do in our spare time or as a hobby.
That is the call made by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya to the public.
“The challenge remains whereby we still think of physical activity and exercise as a recreational activity, something that we do in our spare time or as a hobby.
“What we need to do is to incorporate physical activity and exercise into our daily lives, in other words, making it our culture to be active and to exercise,” he said when opening the FitForLife Penang 2016 fair at the SPICE Arena in Penang on Saturday.
Dr Hilmi also said the public must take responsibility over their own health for the sake of their family.
“The Health Ministry can only do so much to constantly remind you. The rest is in your hands. Only when you are healthy can you then be healthy parents to your growing children, and subsequently all of you can then make up a healthy community,” he added.
He said he was happy to see more Malaysians indulging invarious forms of physical activity and exercise as proven by the increasing number of walking,running and cycling eventsorganised all over the country throughout the year.
“The more people exercise, the healthier the nation will become. The prominent benefit of exercise is towards health, both physically and mentally — not only as apreventive measure but also as a controlling measure.
“It helps in preventing obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as well as keeping them in control,” Dr Hilmi said.
He also said he had always emphasised the fact that despite the variety of Malaysian cuisine available, eating in moderation is a key factor.
He said that as the Deputy Health Minister, he sometimes had to take many meals, sometimes up to eight times a day.
“But what I do, I take very little at a time, very little. This advice was given by my colleague at the National Heart Institute,” he explained.
Dr Hilmi said like many countries in the world, Malaysia’s citizens are at risk of suffering from lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol which will lead to the much dreaded NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.
“Over the years, this worrying trend has grown at an alarming rate, affecting both the young and the old. Heart attacks and strokes do not only affect the older population but also the young.
“Alarmingly, children are also vulnerable to the risk of NCDs right from foetal development.
“The risks are further increased during childhood with their exposure to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise as well as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption later on in life.
“Malaysia cannot be proud of the fact that we have among the highest prevalence of NCD risk factors in the ASEAN region,” he said.
Dr Hilmi said the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 by the Health Ministry showed that in adults 18 years and above, 30% were found to be overweight while 18% were reported to be obese.
He noted that the prevalence of high blood cholesterol was 48%, hypertension 30% and diabetes 17.5%.
“These are rather alarming figures and we need to actively do something about it! In Malaysia, cardiovascular diseases account for 7.5% of the total hospital admissions but are responsible for approximately 25% of in-hospital deaths. This makes cardiovascular diseases the number one killer disease in the country,” he added.
Dr Hilmi congratulated the Star Media Group Berhad and Great Eastern Life on their commendable collaborative effort to once again create a platform to encourage all Malaysians to live healthier, better and longer lives through the FitForLife fair.
“I am pleased that FitForLife is now a household name among Malaysians. It has been growing over the years to become one of the biggest health and lifestyle exhibitions in the country with the aim of promoting a wide range of healthcare products and services to the public and this is no ordinary achievement!
“I applaud and commend theinitiative by The Star and Great Eastern Life and sincerely hope that this partnership will continue to flourish in the years to come. You are definitely working hard to live up to the ideals of Malaysia’s vision for health,” he said.
Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Nicholas Kua and Star Media Group chief operating officer Calvin Kan presented Dr Hilmi with a memento at the fair’s launching on Saturday.
Dr Hilmi later toured the various booths at the fair accompanied by Kua, Kan, Star Media Group senior general manager (advertising and business development) Chin Seow Ping, regional operationsgeneral manager (north) Simone Liong, news editor (regional) K. Suthakar and Penang Health Department senior principalassistant director (health promotion) Zawaha Idris.