Let’s Talk About Obesity and…

World Obesity Day – 4 March – is a unified day of action that calls for a cohesive, cross-sector response to the obesity crisis. This year’s (2024) campaign theme is ‘Let’s Talk About Obesity And…’.

Source: Envato Elements

Findings released by the Lancet reported that, in 2022, more than 1 billion people in the world were living with obesity. Worldwide, obesity among adults has more than doubled since 1990 and has quadrupled among children and adolescents (5 to 19 years of age). The data also showed that 43% of adults were overweight in 2022.

The National Health Screening Initiative 2023 reported that more than half (53.5%) of Malaysians screened were overweight or obese (31.3% overweight and 22.2% obese). The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 previously reported 50.1% prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults (30.4% overweight and 19.7% obese). This shows that the rates of overweight and obesity are still in the increasing trend.

Source: Envato Elements

The proportion of adults with overweight and obesity increases concurrently with the proportion of eating out in Malaysia. A normal restaurant meal provides at least half of the daily energy requirements of an adult. Furthermore, foods sold at restaurants and convenience stores usually contain lots of sugar, salt, and oil, but fewer vegetables and fruits. No intervention would be effective in preventing obesity if the environment does not facilitate a healthier way of eating.

Read more: Opt for healthier dining experience – by  Kimberly Wong Yuin Y’ng (PhD candidate)

Individuals who are overweight or obese, are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions. One of the less talked about health conditions is infertility.  Infertility affects approximately 48 million couples and 186 million individuals globally. Male factors contribute to approximately half of all infertility cases.

Read more: Let’s talk about obesity and male infertility – by Dr Ruthashini R. Selvasingam and Dr Tan Cia Vei (DrPH candidates)

Individuals with obesity or overweight are strongly linked to higher risks of cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, and some other cancers. Fat tissues may play an important role in carcinogenesis and progression to cancer.

Read more: Let’s Talk About Obesity And Cancer – by Dr Soh Yih Harng (DrPH candidate)

Overproduction of the appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin, can lead to weight gain due to leptin resistance. This hormonal imbalance also promotes inflammation, thereby increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people with obesity. 

Approximately 76.5% of Malaysian patients who underwent percutaneous coronary intervention for a heart attack were either overweight or obese. Recognizing this common link, we aim to debunk four common myths associated with obesity and CVD.

Read more: Let’s Talk About Obesity And Myths Related To Cardiovascular Disease — by Dr Yap Jun Fai (DrPH candidate)

The above media pieces were written by research candidates of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya and compiled by Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming, in conjunction with World Obesity Day on 4 March 2024.




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