Malaysia has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in Southeast Asia.
In response, the government has launched the Agenda Nasional Malaysia Sihat (ANMS) on 11 November, aiming to improve every Malaysian’s health.
During the launch of the event, which was screened on TV1’s Selamat Pagi Malaysia programme, Health Ministry Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia is not a healthy country.
“If you ask me if Malaysia is a healthy country, my answer is ‘no’. We are among countries that are tops in terms of obesity and heart disease, and among the leading causes of Covid-19 deaths in the country is that most of the patients have comorbidities or chronic diseases.”
“In Malaysia, one in every two people are obese and overweight, including myself, while one in four don’t practise physical activity and only one in 20 maintain healthy eating habits.”
“According to official statistics, half a million adults suffer from depression. I am confident that this is lower than the actual figure.” he said.
Khairy added that Malaysians need to make a behavioural change voluntarily and increase awareness to create a healthy nation without having to rely on the health ministry or the government.
Following which, Khairy had created a poll on Twitter, asking whether should the nation’s favourite hangout, the mamak stalls, be open 24/7 or be limited to a time frame?
However, netizens on Twitter went on defensive mode and defended their precious mamak stalls.
A netizen asked why the Health Minister targeted mamak shops instead of other groups with circadian disruption which caused them to gain weight and need late night snacks first.
Another netizen said there are healthy options at mamaks too and he pointed out that the problem with Malaysia is that unhealthy foods are cheap but healthy ones are expensive. This then causes most to stick to unhealthy food.
Meanwhile, close to 80% of the respondents said mamaks should be allowed to operate 24 hours at the time of writing.
This would mean that the Health Ministry may need to reconsider their plans on pulling the brakes on mamak shops.
Nonetheless, there were several good suggestions that netizens have pointed out and the Ministry could put forward a few of these suggestions.
Among those that were suggested is to improve the infrastructure like walkways and bicycle lanes so people can opt to walk rather than drive all the time.
Some also suggested that the Ministry could think about a more recreational place or a gym facility.
“Make doing cheap outdoor activities accessible to all! Right now it’s so difficult for people to go hiking at the outer edge of Selangor. All the trails are there but no public transport, and the trails aren’t marked. Heck, even to get to Broga Hill and back is a pain!” a netizen said.
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