The Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity (MASO) organised a scientific conference this year with the theme “Curbing obesity: A shared responsibility”. The conference took place at the Marriot Hotel in Putrajaya from 4th to 5th September 2023. As the theme implies, the conference attracted clinical experts and medical researchers from various Malaysian universities, notably Universiti Malaya, National University of Malaysia, University Putra Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, and many others.
Throughout the conference, many exciting and pertinent topics were discussed. On day 1, the audience was captivated by the environmental and city landscape planning discussion, exploring how urban city design could influence daily physical activity and sedentary behaviours. On day 2, the audience was presented with a subjective assessment of one’s body influences perceived stigma. Therefore, it was deemed necessary to reduce discrimination and stigmatization towards individuals with non-average body sizes.
Dr. Yap Jun Fai delivered an oral presentation/ lecture entitled “Incidence of Cardiovascular Disease and its predictor among school teachers in Peninsular Malaysia: A prospective cohort study”. He highlighted the relatively higher incidence rate of incident cardiovascular disease among male teachers and the generally large proportion of unhealthy lifestyle habits. Treating modifiable predictors such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension or dyslipidemia through obesity management may be useful in reducing their risk of acquiring an incident cardiovascular disease.
Mr Ng Yit Han presented his poster entitled “Prevalence of abdominal obesity and its associated lifestyle factors among teachers in the CLUSTer cohort”. He reported the surprisingly high prevalence of abdominal obesity among school teachers and identified insufficient sleep as one of the risk factors associated with waist circumference among them. This finding underscored the importance of teachers being mindful of their sleep hours to ensure their overall well-being. This poster was awarded a Consolation prize by the MASO organising committee.
The audience was also updated on the snippets contained within the 2023 edition of the Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Management of Obesity. For instance, the cutoff body mass index value of 23kg/m2 was emphasized for overweight (pre-obesity) and 27.5 kg/m2 for obesity. Regarding the treatment of obesity, drug therapy should not be used as a standalone modality as it is considered as an adjunct to medical nutrition therapy and physical exercise. In fact, multicomponent psychological and behavioural therapy should be integrated into the management of individuals with obesity.
In short, this conference provided an excellent platform to disseminate scientific findings among fellow researchers in relevant fields. We hope that more CLUSTer findings can be shared in future conferences, potentially garnering the attention of educational authorities. By doing so, practical and relevant health policies can be implemented to improve the health and well-being of teachers in Malaysia. This report is prepared by Dr Yap Jun Fai (DrPH candidate) and Mr Ng Yit Han (PhD) supervised by Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming.