NHMS 2023: Over Half Of Malaysian Adults Overweight Or Obese

The trend in overweight and obesity among Malaysian adults over the past decade, based on a BMI of ≥ 25.0 kg/m, has increased by 10 percentage points, rising from 44.5% in 2011 to 54.4% in 2023, according to the NHMS 2023.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — More than half of the adult population in Malaysia are either overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2023.

The trend in overweight and obesity among Malaysian adults over the past decade, based on a body mass index (BMI) of ≥ 25.0 kg/m, has increased by 10 percentage points, rising from 44.5 per cent in 2011 to 54.4 percent in 2023.

Similarly, the trend in abdominal obesity among Malaysian adults, based on waist circumference of ≥ 90.0 cm for men and ≥ 80.0 cm for women, has also seen a similar increase, rising from 45.4 per cent in 2011 to 54.5 per cent in 2023.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults requires serious attention and immediate action by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to address and prevent related health complications.

“One contributing factor to this increase is excessive sugar consumption, as demonstrated by several local studies. To address this issue, the government has implemented fiscal measures, including excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and premixed drinks, led by the Ministry of Finance and the Royal Malaysian Customs Department,” Dzulkefly said in a statement last May 16.

According to NHMS 2023 by the Institute for Public Health (IKU) under the MOH, one in three adults in Malaysia are not physically active. About 84 per cent are not involved in sports, fitness, or leisure activities, and an equal percentage do not walk or cycle for transportation.

One in two adults lead sedentary lifestyles, defined as spending over two hours a day sitting, lying down, or reclining while awake.

The report also found that 38 per cent of adults in Malaysia do not get enough sleep, defined as less than seven hours on average within a 24-hour period. Insufficient sleep is linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and accidents.

Insufficient sleep is more common in urban areas (39 per cent) than rural areas (32 per cent). It is also more prevalent among middle-aged adults (over 40 per cent in those aged 40 to 49 and 50 to 59).

The prevalence of inadequate sleep is similar in both sexes (38 per cent) and across all household income groups: B40 (38 per cent), M40 (37 per cent), and T20 (39 per cent).

In terms of diet, the report found that 95.1 per cent of adults in Malaysia do not consume enough fruits and vegetables daily. On average, adults consume only two servings of fruits and/ or vegetables instead of the recommended five servings.

One serving of vegetables is equivalent to one cup (250ml) of raw vegetables or half a cup of cooked vegetables. One serving of fruit is equal to one medium apple, one medium banana, one slice of papaya, or one medium guava.

The prevalence of adequate fruit intake by age group is as follows: 18-19 (7.1 per cent); 20-29 (9 per cent); 30-39 (11.4 per cent); 40-49 (12.7 per cent); 50-59 (13.9 per cent); 60 and above (13.5 per cent).

The report also noted that one in five adults do not drink enough plain water – 6 to 8 glasses, with one glass equivalent to 250ml – every day.

About one in 10 adults in Malaysia drank alcohol in the past 12 months. Among those who consumed alcohol during this period, one in two drank excessively, defined as consuming more than six standard drinks in one session (equivalent to more than 60 grams of alcohol).

Among those who consumed alcohol excessively, 75 per cent were men, 55 per cent were aged between 20 and 39, and 27 per cent did so at least once a week.

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