Malaysians Clear About Healthy Aging: Herbalife Survey

Fear of illness due to lower immunity tops the list of aging-related worries for respondents.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 – Global nutrition company Herbalife Nutrition recently released findings from their 2020 Asia Pacific Healthy Aging Survey, which revealed that Malaysian consumers have a clear vision of what healthy aging means to them.

More than four in 10 consumers (44 per cent) have the confidence to age healthily, with the fear of falling ill due to lower immunity as their main worry. 

To shed light on aging-related fears, concerns, confidence levels and actions, the survey also polled equal numbers of members of Generation Z (18 – 23 years), millennials (24 – 39 years), Generation X (40 – 55 years) and boomers (55 years and above) in 11 markets including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. 

“This is the third edition of our survey designed to uncover concerns about aging across demographic groups and markets in Asia Pacific, the region with the highest average life expectancy in the world,” said Steven Chin, general manager and director, Herbalife Nutrition Malaysia.

“The findings showed that many people worry about falling ill due to lower immunity as they age – a likely result of their changing health concerns due to the ongoing pandemic. Additionally, we also observed that consumers in Malaysian market, where an aging population is particularly notable, have higher levels of confidence in their ability to age healthily compared to their Southeast Asia counterparts.”

“According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the country is expected to become an aging society by 2030. With the estimate that 7.2 per cent of the population will be 65 and older by next year, healthy aging should be addressed and articulated to protect the elderly by implementing preventive public health measures such as promoting a healthy lifestyle. Having this in mind, we should deepen our awareness about the need to take steps towards healthy aging early on in life,” he added.

Defining Healthy Aging 

When asked to define healthy aging in more tangible terms, Malaysian consumers painted a positive picture. Respondents shared that healthy aging is about not suffering from any chronic or acute illness (62 per cent), being mentally active and sharp (59 per cent), not being a burden to their families as they age (52 per cent), living a free and independent life (51 per cent) and being physically active (49 per cent).

“Healthy aging is more than just getting old with limited ailments. It is about ensuring a good quality of life in terms of physical, spiritual, social and mental well-being – and this can be achieved through kickstarting our healthy aging journey early with positive lifestyle changes,” Chin said. 

Aging-Related Concerns 

Over half (64 per cent) of Malaysian consumers believe that discussions on how to age healthily should begin between the ages of 30 and 49. The most common reason given for postponing discussions about aging was that they are still young, followed by the prioritisation of their present health and lifestyle. 

For those who are concerned about aging, two-thirds (64 per cent) of consumers started to have concerns between the age of 30 and 59, with bone- and joint-related issues topping the list of specific health concerns, followed by eye-related and heart-related issues. 

Fear of Aging

Only 28 per cent of Asia Pacific consumers expressed confidence in their ability to age healthily. The survey results indicate that consumers in Malaysia (44 per cent) were generally more confident. 

Across the different demographic groups, younger consumers such as boomers (57 per cent), millennials (43 per cent) and Generation Z (41 per cent) displayed greater confidence in their ability to age healthily as compared to their Generation X counterparts (39 per cent). 

The fear of falling ill due to lower immunity emerged as the top aging-related worry.:

  • Two in five (36 per cent) respondents worry about falling ill due to lower immunity as they age.
  • One in five (24 per cent) worry that visible signs of aging will change their appearance. 
  • One in ten (10 per cent) fear that they might become less independent as the body becomes weaker. 

Regarding the potential aging-related effects that consumers will experience: 

  • 57 per cent of respondents believe that they would experience a decrease in mental acuity; 
  • 43 per cent believe that they would most likely suffer from chronic or acute illnesses or ailments; 
  • 38 per cent believe that they will participate in fewer physical activities and be physically weaker as they grow older.

Taking Steps Towards Healthy Aging 

Nonetheless, the majority of Malaysian consumers understand the importance of healthy aging, with nearly nine in 10 consumers (88 per cent) having taken steps to help age healthily. The steps taken include: 

  • Making better nutrition choices (79 per cent).
  • Engaging in more regular physical activities (56 per cent).
  • Engaging in mentally-stimulating activities or hobbies (54 per cent).
  • Going for more regular health check-ups (50 per cent).
  • Taking supplements that promote healthy aging (48 per cent).

Across the demographic groups, a larger proportion (93 per cent) of older consumers such as boomers have taken steps towards healthy aging as compared to Generation X (87 per cent), millennials (87 per cent) and Generation Z (87 per cent). 

“While growing older is inevitable, active steps can be taken to help us age healthily. Simply by having the right nutritional habits accompanied by regular physical activities, we are on the right track for healthy aging,” Chin added.

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