Poor eating habits linked to higher rates of diabetes among young Malaysians: Expert
KUALA LUMPUR: Cheese-coated banana fritters, boba or bubble iced teas and Milo ais kepal (a concoction of ice cubes, Milo and sweet cream sprinkled with crushed peanuts) are among the “hipster” snacks and drinks sought after by young people in Malaysia.
But their indulgence is of no use to them because these “goodies”, according to health experts, contain excessive amounts of sugar. Unsurprisingly, cases of diabetes in people under the age of 40 have been trending upwards since 2000, which has become a matter of concern for health authorities.
According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), the prevalence of diabetes among Malaysian adults aged 18 and over increased from 11.2% in 2011 to 13.4% in 2015. In 2019, it amounted to 18.3%, or 3.9 million. of the adult population.
The statistics are expected to increase further when the next NMHS takes place in 2023.
Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, deputy director of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health, said that a poor diet, including the consumption of so-called hipster foods and drinks, is one of the main risks. factors for increasing cases of diabetes in young people.
He considered that an unhealthy diet consisted of overeating and consuming foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt, as well as not eating enough vegetables, fruits and foods high in fiber.
“We can see for ourselves the popularity of hipster food and drink among our young people. These items are so easy to find … even roadside stalls promote them extensively on social media.
“In terms of calories, a glass (500 ml) of boba tea contains 300 to 500 kilocalories (kcal). Each serving of rice contains 75 kcal, so (total calories) one glass of boba tea equals five servings of rice. As for pisang goreng cheese, each contains 190 kcal. Just imagine the sugar content of these “viral” foods, ”he told Bernama.
Attributing the popularity of these food products to the power of social media, Dr Feisul Idzwan said the younger generation is easily influenced by social media posts and merchant marketing strategies, as well as their friends and media influencers. social.
Dr Feisul Idzwan, who is also a public health specialist, said the situation regarding the prevalence of NCDs such as diabetes among young people is made worse by the fact that few of them undergo regular health check-ups. to check their blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Such screenings, he said, can be done easily at any public or private clinic, while those in the B40 group who cannot afford it are entitled to free medical screenings as part of the program. government health program Skim Peduli Kesihatan (PeKa B40).
He said many people are either unaware of the importance of having regular health check-ups or are unable to do so due to time and transportation constraints. Some avoid it for fear of the test result.
“I would like to stress how important it is for us to detect NCDs such as diabetes at an early stage. Diabetes is easier to control, and the risk of complications is also reduced if caught early. People with diabetes can stay healthy if they can get it under control.
“That’s why it’s important that every Malaysian adult has a health check-up once a year. The type of screening will depend on the person’s gender, age and level of health risk (including a history of disease in the family), ”he explained.
He said diabetes, if not detected and treated early, can lead to kidney failure (diabetic nephropathy), damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy), coronary artery disease and erectile dysfunction.
Meanwhile, consulting endocrinologist and diabetologist at Gleneagles Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Saiful Kassim, attributed the increasing prevalence of diabetes among millennials (those born between the mid-1980s and 2000s) to a ” food poisoning ”because of their poor food choices and physical inactivity. .
Urging them to eat moderately and stick to a balanced diet of foods high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, he said they should also change their lifestyle by doing physical movements every 30 to 60. minutes, as well as walking 50 times from wall to wall. the other in the house every day.
“Such physical movements are more important than heavy exercise. This is because older people and people with osteoarthritis find it difficult to exercise.
“But if you want to exercise, you need to do it for at least 150 minutes a week, as well as brisk walking for 30 minutes five times a day,” he added.
Dr Sharifah Sakinah Syed Alwi, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Universiti Putra Malaysia, said that by exercising regularly, blood sugar levels can be controlled, especially in patients with diabetes mellitus. 2. Exercising can also reduce cardiovascular risk and weight, she added.
“Only by stopping the consumption of foods high in sugar and low in nutritional value can we build a generation of Malaysians who are healthier and free from NCDs like diabetes,” she said. .Bernama