Lack of nutrition the culprit


Worrying trend: Dr Adham Baba and Health DG Datuk Dr Nor Hisham Abdullah (right) launching the NHMS 2019 book at Putrajaya.

PUTRAJAYA: Some of the major health problems faced by Malaysians are to do with nutrition, as a Health Ministry survey shows that the country is battling both diabetes in adults and stunting among children.

The newly launched National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 showed that nearly one in five Malaysian adults, or 18.3%, had diabetes.

The survey found that an estimated 3.9 million Malaysians aged 18 and above were suffering from diabetes, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

This is a spike from the 13.4% diabetes prevalence rate in 2015.

(In the NHMS 2015, the prevalence of diabetes in the country was reported as 17.5%, before the measurement of the disease was changed in line with World Health Organisation standards.)

Nearly half (49%) of those with diabetes were never officially diagnosed or checked for the disease.

When launching the NHMS 2019, the minister said non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and their risk factors were on the rise.

“It was also found that more than 50% of adults in Malaysia were overweight or obese, and 95% of adults in Malaysia were not consuming the adequate intake of vegetables and fruits,” he said yesterday.

The highest prevalence rates of diabetes were found in Negri Sembilan (33.2%), Perlis (32.6%) and Pahang (25.7%).

About 25% of Malaysian adults were physically inactive, though the proportion of physically inactive Malaysians had dropped from 33% in 2015.

On other hand, Dr Adham said that stunting among children under the age of five had increased to 21.8% in 2019, from 17.7% in 2015.

Citing malnutrition as a cause for the problem, he added that stunting among children was an area of concern for the ministry.

The NHMS is conducted in cycles of four years, where the topic of the first year focuses on non-communicable diseases and demand of healthcare.

The survey has more than 32,000 respondents from all states across Malaysia.

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