As we all know, March is the Nutrition Month Malaysia. The theme for this year is promoting healthy eating and be active. In view of this, the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine would like to showcase some of the studies that are related to diet and health. In conjunction with the nutrition month, we would like to highlight the findings from the Malaysian Health and Adolescents Longitudinal Research (MyHeARTs) study. This study was a prospective cohort study led by Assoc Prof Dr Hazreen Abdul Majid and supported by MyHeARTs team members. The finding that will be shared for this summary was completed by our postgraduate students Ms Liyana Ramli and Ms Suriawati A Aziz.
The route to an excellent health in adulthood is paved with the choices made during the teenage years. A healthy diet is essential for teenagers because this is the period of opportunity to reach their nutritional needs for an optimal growth. As they are growing up, there is an increase in energy demands, but it is also important to think about increases in nutrient demands. However, studies among Malaysian adolescents’ showed preferences towards energy-dense foods that are higher in fats and sugars, yet low in vitamins and minerals. We reported in our study published in PlosOne, that Malaysian adolescents had a very low dietary intake of fibre, calcium and vitamin D but consumed high sodium and sugar, especially among obese adolescents. The disparity was apparent between adolescents who lived in urban and rural areas where obese adolescents in the rural area had higher sugar intake (approximately 10 teaspoons per day) and cholesterol as compared to their counterparts in the urban settings.
We further investigate the relationship between the dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D, physical activity, and bone mineral content (BMC), we found that higher intake of vitamin D and with a combination of Vitamin D and calcium had resulted in significantly higher BMC. It is hoped that these studies will contribute useful information for the policymakers, healthcare providers, academicians and other stakeholders in promoting better health through education and sustainable intervention.