Obesity results from a long-term energy imbalance, a combination of excess energy intake, low levels of energy expenditure and an inactive lifestyle.
Guys, I need to share with you these ridiculous numbers.
8.5 million Malaysian adults are overweight. (Urban Health)
That’s almost a THIRD of our population.
Can you imagine that? One in three Malaysians are fat and unhealthy! Not trying to be crude, but it’s time we wake up and smell the stinking facts.
Breaking down that 8.5 million overweight Malaysians by race, and here are the shocking numbers:
How did we end up here?
We need to find out if and why the Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
Learn what we’re doing wrong as a nation and take strides to fix it. So here are a few explanations for why we’re in this uncomfortable predicament.
Reason #1: We Are What We Eat
There is a natural tendency for many Malaysians to gravitate towards very unhealthy meal options.
Imagine a Nasi Lemak Ayam with luxurious rendang sauce drizzling down the side, the mouth-watering aroma wafting your way, leaving you completely defenceless to any form of resistance. It takes a lot to say no to that.
In fact, let’s take a look at Malaysian’s favourite foods and their calorie content.
I think we can agree that the numbers here are pretty high. I mean, a simple Roti Canai Telur is almost 400 kcal and Teh Tarik is more than half of that.
We can safely conclude that Malaysian foods are pretty heavy on the calorie count.
It’s not that we have no self-control.
We totally do, it’s just that the food we have is too gastronomically amazing, which is why an average level of self-control is NOT enough.
We’ve got to bump up our game to resist our delicious delicacies. Indulging is fine, once in a while, but to eat curry laksa or char koey teow every meal is definitely detrimental to our health.
So yea, I’m going to blame Malaysian food here for causing obesity in our country. This is one of the reasons why the Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
Food here is just too gosh darn good. But I won’t leave it at that. We Malaysians must find the strength in us to live healthy, even amidst all these temptations.
The problem has been addressed, now it’s up to us to do something about it.
If you’re looking for ways to start living healthy, this article on 14 Practical Tips to Live Healthy in Malaysia might be helpful.
Reason #2: We Are Living At Our Desks
The second worst thing about Malaysian lifestyle with respect to obesity, is our daily activity levels. The next reason why Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
The Nutrition At Work survey by Herbalife found nine out of 10 Malaysian workers, which is a whopping 86 percent, spent at least six hours a day sitting at their desk.
To add to that, five out of 10 eat lunch at their work desk as well, two to five times a week.
That is terrible.
Not only is sitting so much detrimental to one’s waistline, it also causes damaging blows to one’s overall health.
Prolonged hours of sitting has been shown to contribute to many health issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes and even cardiovascular diseases.
The WHO claims that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the top ten leading causes of death.
In 2004, a study by the University of Hong Kong found that more people died from physical inactivity than from smoking.
Can you imagine that?
Their study showed that 92% of men and 75% of women had bigger risks of dying from breathing problems related to physical inactivity compared to smoking.
If that’s not incentive enough to get off your chair every hour or so, I don’t know what is.
Besides long hours of continuous sitting, here are 12 Unsuspecting Bad Habits that You Should Quit to Start Living Healthy.
A further breakdown of the Nutrition At Work study showed that 67% of women in Malaysia spend six to nine hours sitting at their desks compared to 64% of their male counterparts.
Ladies, stop doing this! Leave your seat once in a while, no one’s gonna steal it from you!
This is terrible. It needs to stop.
Your health is at risk here, remember to stand up, stretch, go for a short walk, anything.
You might think these little actions insignificant, but their positive effects are long term. Your future self will thank you for those little laps around the office.
Reason #3: Drastic Diet Unbalance
Since it is already an established fact that most Malaysians live a sedentary lifestyle, let’s take a look at the average calorie intake recommendation for a sedentary lifestyle, for both men and women.
Average Calories Needed For A Sedentary Lifestyle
And now, let’s take a look at a typical Malaysian daily diet.
We are eating way more than our bodies need. Another way we see how the Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
We already don’t do much to burn it off, so when we consume extra calories like that, the build-up of fat is inevitable.
Now that we know where we stand, we know what to do. Consume less calories. Or burn them off deliberately with exercise!
Here are some useful tips to get fit fast, the healthy way.
Reason #4: Exercise? Never Heard of It.
Exercising, joining a gym, going for a run, all these are not really part of the Malaysian culture.
It is a rather Western influence and it hasn’t really grown on the majority of us here in Malaysia.
The Nutrition At Work revealed that 86% of Malaysia’s workforce exercised less than three times a week. And seven out of 10 workers get less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day at their workplace.
Lack of exercise coupled with an already sedentary lifestyle is the reason why Malaysia bagged number one in South East Asia, claiming the title for Most Obese Country.
Actually, when you think about it, there is a reason why we don’t get out much to exercise.
Running around the park, or even your own neighbourhood is not the norm here in Malaysia because of the elevated crime levels during the past few decades.
When we were much younger, there was no concern for kids to cycle around the neighbourhood, playing outside of the home.
Now, because of security issues, kids are no longer allowed outside the house, a tragic thing indeed.
So this is the driving factor of why Malaysians tend to stay indoors, not getting the exercise they need. Another way Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
I think it’s time we changed this mind set.
There are ways to manoeuvre around this problem.
Get a running buddy, join a gym if you insist on safety, if you’re not keen on gyms, here are Top 15 Fun Indoor Activities to Get Fit in KL Instead of Hitting the Gym.
Time to stop making excuses and JUST DO IT!!
Reason #5: We LOVE Our Gadgets A Bit Too Much
The sad side effects of tech.
I love technology, don’t get me wrong, I mean, I could NOT get ANY work done without my precious phone, but you know, Wall-E does make quite a bit of sense.
A recent study showed that three out of four Malaysians were primarily doing sedentary and mental work.
A lot of our work now revolves around computers, there’s nothing we can do about that.
But outside work, our leisure time has also been taken over by technology.
This is what Malaysians spend most of their leisure time doing: Watching television, playing computer games, eating, idling or reading.
Reading is great, but notice the similarity between all these activities? None of them contribute to our overall health. We have really unhealthy hobbies! Sad way how Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
Research shows a direct correlation between watching TV, weight gain and obesity related diseases.
People who watched TV more than 40 hours a week, had a three times more risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those who watched for less than 1 hour a week.
What we do in our spare time makes or breaks our body.
Whether we choose to hit the mamak or the gym determines how good our body looks and how well our body will fare battling against viruses, illness and effects of ageing.
Reason #6: My Car is My BAE
Let’s face it, it is common knowledge that public transportation in Malaysia is not as good as it should be.
Of course, it is definitely getting better and better, but it’s not quite there yet at the moment, especially so for the options of walking or cycling, which are by far, the healthiest ways to travel to and from work.
Unfortunately, because this is the case, most Malaysians have no option but to drive.
And once we get a car, walking or cycling, becomes a very foreign activity throughout the day.
People who own cars drive everywhere they need to go.
It’s easier, it’s faster, and it’s more comfortable. Why walk when you can drive?
Driving is a Malaysian culture. Just look at our horrendous traffic jams and you’ll agree.
Almost everyone owns a car or a motorcycle, because they absolutely need it! It’s a necessity to get to where we need to go. Hence another way we see how Malaysian lifestyle leads to obesity.
So how do we keep the car, but start getting fit?
Begin by taking every opportunity you have to walk.
Walk to your lunch place, walk around your office every hour or so for your break from sitting, walk up flights of stairs.
When the distance is permissible to walk, get those legs moving!
Keeping healthy is a mind-set, so look out for every opportunity to get active.
Malaysian Lifestyle Leads to Obesity
To conclude, this is NOT an article to blame the Malaysian lifestyle or the culture for infusing bad fitness habits in us.
Its purpose is to explore what patterns we subconsciously pick up from our surroundings that may be contributing to our national plight of obesity.
And we shouldn’t stop at just identifying the problem.
Now is the time to take measures to fix it.
So here are 14 Practical Tips to Live Healthy in Malaysia to help you get started.
I hope you’ll benefit leaps and bounds with these explanations of Why the Malaysian Lifestyle Leads to Obesity.
If you have a great tip on how to get fit and live healthy in KL, do share it in the comments below, however insignificant you think it might be.
Your tips might not even occur to others and may make a huge difference in the life of another.
So let’s cultivate that Malaysian sharing spirit and help each other out in our universal strive for personal fitness!
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Welcome to this journey to better health!