THE rising prices of vegetables – with an increase by up to 200% in some cases – is worrying. The possibility of prices remaining high until next year could add to growing food insecurity. Defined as a disruption of food intake or eating patterns due to limited money or other resources, food insecurity is also one of the root causes of malnutrition. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the number of undernourished people across Malaysia to continue to rise, especially among vulnerable groups which have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, such as the Orang Asli, low- income and welfare-recipient households, and the elderly.
Even before the pandemic began in March 2020, Malaysia was one of the few Asian countries facing three forms of malnutrition: obesity, stunting and anaemia. Specifically, the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 revealed that one in two (50.1%) adults are either overweight or obese, while slightly more than one in five (21.8%) children under five years old are stunted, and almost three in 10 (29.9%) women of reproductive age are anaemic.