Nutrition in Malaysia is bad

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IN 1999, I published a paper in the Malaysian Journal of Nutrition titled “Nutrition of Malaysians: Where are we heading?” I highlighted the dramatic changes in dietary pattern and lifestyle of the population which resulted in significant proportions of the population being afflicted with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with overnutrition, eg obesity, hypertension, heart disease and cancers. I asked, in that paper: Are we able to arrest the increase in these diet-related chronic diseases?

Today, 20 years later, the answer is clear: we have not been able to halt the rise in these diet-related diseases; the nutrition of Malaysians has deteriorated. The 2019 National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) report released by the Health Ministry on May 29 (“Lack of nutrition the culprit”, The Star; online at revealed that the prevalence of overweight+obesity has just passed the 50% mark: every other adult Malaysian is either overweight or obese. The prevalence of adults with diabetes is 18.3% and 38.1% have high blood cholesterol. All these three parameters are about double the levels in the 1996 NHMS.

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