‘Overweight Malaysians nearly half of adult population’

Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar (right) performs a gimmick to declare open the Conjoint 6th National Cardiac Rehabilitation Conference and 9th Malaysian Rehabilitation Medicine Conference today at a hotel here by bursting a balloon using a blowpipe dart.

KUCHING: Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of overweight individuals in the country has more than doubled, from 21 per cent in the adult population in 2006 to 48 per cent in 2015.

And if a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 23 kg/m2 was to be used as the cut-off score for an overweight ranking, the prevalence of overweight individuals is even much higher at 64 per cent in 2015 which is a rise of 30 per cent as compared to 2006.

Ministry of Health Director of Medical Development Division Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said Malaysia has not been proud to disclose these figures.

“The prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the Malaysian adult population increased more than 50 per cent, from 11.6 per cent in 2006 to 17.5 per cent in 2015.

“Comparing 2006 and 2015, the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia more than doubled, from 22.9 per cent to 47.7 per cent,” said Dr Azman while opening the Conjoint 6th National Cardiac Rehabilitation Conference and 9th Malaysian Rehabilitation Medicine Conference at a local hotel here today.


As for hypertension, prevalence fell from 37.7 per cent in 2006 to 30.3 per cent in 2015. Though the number had dropped, it was still high by international standards.

He said around 48 per cent of Malaysian adults (above 18-years-old) are physically inactive and almost 90 per cent of Malaysians have unhealthy diets where smoking among adults are prevalent at 24 per cent.

Heavy drinking, with a prevalence of five per cent, is relatively low.

“Coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, including Malaysia.”

Ministry of Health Director of Medical Development Division Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar (right) presents a souvenir to a speaker.

“It seems that people are getting coronary heart disease at an even younger age. Statistics showed that we perform less well in improvement of adult life expectancy with a high and growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).”

NCDs include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

In 1990, NCDs accounted for 60 per cent of the burden of disease in Malaysia and this percentage increased to 72 per cent in 2013.

“Based on the National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS), 98 per cent of adults aged 18 years and over in Malaysia have been reported to have at least one risk factor for NCDs such as smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity or heavy drinking, and a large proportion of our population has multiple risk factors,” said Dr Azman.

Meanwhile, organising chairperson Dr Leong Be Kim said cardiovascular disease is the most prevalent non-communicable disease and the leading cause of morbidity.

“Cardiovascular health, preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation will remain important now and in the future,” said Dr Leong.