AFTER a busy day at work, do people prefer to exercise or go home and slump on the sofa and watch television?
Most of those interviewed told The Star that they would choose the latter, stating that they would not have the time or energy to exercise after work.
With the obesity rate in Malaysia skyrocketing for the past decade, factors such as the above are contributing to Malaysians becoming obese.
A hardware shop owner who only wished to be known as Andy, 42, said that after the opening of his shop a few months ago, he could only close shop late in the evening.
“Most people come to my shop after work, and by the time I get home I am too exhausted to exercise.
“I used to be overweight and the most heavy I have been is 110 kg,” Andy said.
He said he has since started exercising due to health problems that cropped up.
“I started to jog and cycle, but after I got married I am too busy earning a living to support my family.
“Now with the shop, I have even less time to exercise although I do try to squeeze in some time to cycle before work these days,” he added.
Andy said the reason for the increasing number of obese people in the country was due to the vast amount of choices when it comes to food.
“Malaysia is a multi-racial country and each race has its own delicacies. We are spoilt for choices when we go out to eat,” he said.
“With the number of options available, it’s normal to want to try them all,” he told The Star.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey, the rate of obesity in Malaysia had increased from 4.4% in 1996 to 15.1% in 2011.
This puts the number of obese Malaysians at around 2.6 million.
Shop assistant Yeoh Bit Heong, 42, said the reason more Malaysians were getting obese was due to too much fast food and fatty food.
“Many people do not have time to cook at night and would rather eat in restaurants, opting for food that contain a lot of MSG,” the mother of two said.
Yeoh said that she restricts her children’s intake of fast food and seldom takes them out for meals.
“I prefer to serve home-cooked food for them, which is more healthy.
“I also seldom let them drink soft drinks because of the high sugar contents,” she said.
Yeoh said another reason behind the high obesity rate was that most Malaysians like to drive everywhere, even if their destination was within walking distance.
“Many people have become lazy and tend to avoid walking as much as they can.
“This is especially true for those who own a car, who would choose to drive everytime they go out rather than walk,” Yeoh said.
A lawyer, who only wished to be known as Chan, 47, said that due to the nation’s progress, people can now afford to spend more when it comes to food.
“Given the abundance of choices, people will be careless and choose what they like to eat, which may not be the healthiest choice.
“I myself did not pay too much attention to my diet due to the hectic lifestyle that I lead,” he said, adding that he would choose the most convenient option for his meals.
“In my job it is very common to work for a long period of time without resting, which is why I can seldom make time for exercising,” he said.
“I feel that the most important thing is willpower when it comes to controlling one’s diet,” he added.
Businessman Chan Khin Yin, 46, said a vast number of eateries can be found almost everywhere.
“It is not uncommon to see at least two restaurants on every street now, so people face temptations to eat and snack all the time.
“Even most business meetings are conducted over tea time or dinner now,” he said.
Being in the food industry, Khin Yin, meanwhile said he had a lot of opportunities to dine out.
“However, I will choose the healthier option and I prefer not to eat at mamak stalls or fast food chains.
“I do feel that more people are aware of the health problems that come with being obese and are not as reluctant to splurge on healthy food products as before,” Khin Yin added.
Accounts clerk Patricia Ong, 42, felt that genes also play an important factor on one becoming obese.
“If someone has a family history of obesity, they will have a higher risk of becoming obese compared to those who don’t.
“I think to combat it, one would need to exercise regularly since young,” Ong said.
The mother of two felt that not getting enough sleep was also another contributing factor.
“Staying up late all the time will also make one fat, leading to obesity.
“The same could be said about frequent beer drinkers,” Ong said.
“My advice would be to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as cutting down on the meat intake in one’s diet,” she added.
Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi said obesity can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising for at least 30 minutes daily.
“It is also important to maintain a healthy diet by reducing one’s intake of fatty food and sugar.
“To raise the public’s awareness on this, the Health Ministry has organised a series of campaigns such as conducting health checks, counselling sessions by nutritionists and the Komuniti Sihat Perkasa Negara programme, in which intervention programmes will be held for those who are obese,” Nolee said.
“It is vital for more people to be aware of the health problems that are closely associated with obesity, as prevention is always better than cure,” she added.