More Malaysians Overweight, Obese In 2020

Prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults in Malaysia increased to 54.2% in 2020 from 50.1% in 2019, according to an MOH study.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — A Ministry of Health (MOH) study revealed an increase in overweight and obesity last year, affecting more than half the adult population in Malaysia, compared to 2019.

According to the 2020 study, an estimated 54.2 per cent of the Malaysian adult population is overweight or obese, an increase of 4 percentage points from the findings of the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 2019.

“The data obtained can be used as a proxy for the prevalence of obesity while waiting for the next NHMS study in 2023,” Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin mentioned in a written parliament answer on November 23.

Temerloh MP Mohd Anuar Mohd Tahir had asked MOH to state the increasing number of people with diabetes or obesity during the long Covid-19 Movement Control Order (MCO).

“The prevalence of diabetes is also expected to increase due to the deterioration of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) risk factors,” Khairy added. 

NHMS 2019 found that 50.1 per cent or 10 million Malaysian adults were classified as overweight or obese.

CodeBlue earlier reported that many follow-up treatments — including for diabetes and heart diseases – were initially deferred due to MCO, but are now delayed due to ongoing fears of contracting the virus at health facilities.

Kuala Kedah MP Azman Ismail asked MOH on November 29 to state the latest rate of Type 2 diabetes by race in Malaysia.

“Does the ministry consider the treatment of Type Two Diabetes in Malaysia to be successful?” Azman asked. 

NHMS 2019 estimated that 18.3 per cent or 3.9 million Malaysians had diabetes and only half of them knew that they had the chronic condition. 

Nonetheless, the rate of diabetic patients achieving an optimal sugar level after undergoing treatment saw a rise from 2018 until 2020, according to MOH.

Based on the National Diabetes Registry, which monitors diabetic patients seeking treatment at public health clinics, diabetic patients who have achieved an optimal sugar control level of HbA1c ≤ 7.0 per cent are increasing over time.

About 43.7 per cent of diabetic patients achieved an optimal sugar control level in 2020, compared to 41.3 per cent in 2019 and 40 per cent in 2018.

“Despite the increasing burden of diabetes, MOH is committed to providing quality services to diabetics in Malaysia,” Khairy stated in a written parliament answer on November 29.

Diabetic patients in Malaysia comprised 31.4 per cent Indians, 21.6 per cent Malays, 15.1 per cent Chinese, 12.3 per cent Sarawak Bumiputeras, 11.2 per cent Sabah Bumiputeras and 8.8% other races.

The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Malaysia continues to rise, with one in five adults likely to be diabetic, one in three adults likely to have hypertension, and two in five adults having high cholesterol levels.

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