Diabetes, hypertension on rise among teens
by Murib Morpi. Posted on June 17, 2012, Sunday
KOTA KINABALU: Staying fit and healthy, it appears, is increasingly more difficult for students in Malaysia today.
Sabah Health Department Director Dr Mohd Yusof Ibrahim said the chances of young Malaysians being obese are much, much higher compared to just a few years ago.
He added that other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and hypertension were also on the rise among teenagers due to unhealthy eating habits and a passive lifestyle.
“In 2006 there were only four per cent obesity among teenagers but the figure increased to almost 12 per cent last year. The growing number of fast food outlets and their popularity among teenagers has been identified as a major contributing factor to this,” he said when officiating at the Program Siswa Sihat (PROSIS) at Universiti Teknology Mara (UiTM) here yesterday.
Yusof said diabetes which was previously common only among the elderly, was also becoming more common among young adults and children.
“Hypertension is also very common among students now, and we believe that for every patient detected there are at least 10 more undetected cases,” he added.
And to deal with the worrying trend, he said the Health Ministry has come up with various programmes including PROSIS, which was aimed at creating awareness among students at higher learning institutions (IPTs) on non-communicable diseases.
He said the ministry would be organizing PROSIS this year in four IPTs across the country and has selected UiTM Campus as the host for Sabah, after holding the event at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) last year.
“This programme has several objectives, one of them is to deal with the increasing occurrence of NCDs, particularly among students and the whole community in general.
“For this year, we have decided to incorporate the 10,000 Steps or M10 programme into PROSIS, to encourage students to exercise and be more concerned about their health.
“Walking 10,000 steps, which is about 8km, will help you burn 400 kilograms of calories (kcl), about the amount of calories you get from eating a bowl of kuew teow.
“On average, a person needs about 2,000kcl a day but we consume about 4,000 to 5,000kcl. So without exercise, there is plenty of excess calories, which means overweight and obesity,” he said.
NCDs are also referred to as diet-related chronic diseases. Apart from obesity, diabetes and hypertension, NCDs also include heart disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, and gallbladder disease, to name a few.
According to the WHO Global Status Report 2010, four main NCDs, namely heart disease, chronic lung disease, cancers and diabetes had caused 36.1 million deaths in 2008 alone, with nearly 80% of these deaths occurring in low-and-middle-income countries.
The total NCD deaths are projected to increase by 15% globally between 2010 and 2020, reaching 44 million a year.
Unfortunately, Malaysia has not been excluded from this trend and in fact was ahead of most other countries.
The Health Ministry recently revealed that there were around 2.6 million or 22 per cent of Malaysians above 30 had diabetes, which was almost double compared to 1.5 million in 2006.
This is extremely bad news because in 2006 the National Health and Morbidity Survey predicted Malaysia will only reach such high rate of diabetes in 2030.
Experts suggested that the rapid rise in diet-related chronic diseases could be attributed to the rapid socio-economic development in Malaysia over the past 20 years, which has brought about significant changes in the people’s lifestyles.
The good news is although most NCDs are incurable, they can be prevented or at least managed by maintaining a consistent healthy eating pattern.
Eating breakfast and avoiding from skipping meals, and sticking to diet that are low in fat and calories could help keep NCDs at bay.
It is also advisable to avoid sugary foods and drinks, engage in more physical activities and monitor your weight regularly.