Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Article on Obesity in Malaysia in The Straits Times 15 Oct 2012

The Straits Times carried an article on obesity in Malaysia on 15 Oct 2012.
Some interesting facts drawn from the article:

From figures obtained from the article:
In 1996, only 5% of malaysians were obese
By 2006, 14% were obese
By 2012, 15% were obese in a country of 28 million people.

And in measuring obesity, their Straits Time article defined it as having a body mass index of above 25.

Other figures from the article:
Almost 50% of adult Malaysians are overweight or obese
About 20% of Malaysians over the age of 30 have diabetes up from 14% in 2006
Another 33% above the age of 30 have high blood pressure.
Three in Four Malaysians do little or no exercise

AND the Fitness Industry had been expanding in Malaysia
Fitness First have 12 branches with 60,000 members
True Fitness have 5 branches with 30,000 members

So what are the corresponding figures in Singapore?

From Ministry of Health (Singapore) for adults (aged 18 to 69 years old):
Obesity rates (do bear in mind data uses BMI>30): 6% (1998) -> 6.9% (2004) -> 10.8% (2010)
Hyprtension rates (> 140/90mmHg): 27.3% (1998) -> 24.9% (2004),  23.5% (2010)
Diabetes rates : 9% (1998), 8.2% (2004), 11.3% (2010)

For obesity on school children, you will need to visit Department of Statistics:
For primary 1 male school children the average obesity rate (2008 - 2011) is around 12%
For primary 5 male school children the average obesity rate (2008 - 2011) is around 18%
For primary 1 female school children the average obesity rate (2008 - 2011) is around 11%
For primary 5 female school children the average obesity rate (2008 - 2011) is around 12%

Are the figures for Singapore and Malaysia comparable? This is real hard to say. Why? Although both uses BMI as an indication, the Straits Times article uses BMI >25 as a yardstick for obesity. While Ministry of Health article uses BMI > 30 for obesity.

And whats more Singpore Health Promotion board provides the BMI classification as follows:

BMI (18.5% - 22.9%) - Low Risk (Healthy or Normal Weight)
BMI (23% - 27. 4%) - Moderate Risk (Overweight)
BMI (27.5%) - High Risk (Obese)

This is inline with the guideline issued by the Malaysian Academy for the Study of obesity. The cuts-off are lower than the WHO classification, which classified overweight and obesity at cut-offs of 25 and 30. This is because evidence from many Asian countries show that Asians develop diseases at lower BMIS. We also tend to have a higher body fat percent at similar BMI, compared with Caucasian/European population.



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