“THE prevalence of obesity in developing countries like Malaysia is still on the upward trend,” Datin Paduka Dr Santha Kumari, Malaysian Diabetes Association Selangor branch chairman, told the public recently.
Being overweight has become a widespread problem in Malaysia.
This is a form of malnutrition, and is leading to diabetes, among other illnesses.
It has been reported that 22 per cent of Malaysians above the age of 30 are diabetic.
Given our national obsession of eating well, overweight people are regarded with envy, rather than with distaste.
I can still remember a time when finding enough food to place on the family table was a major problem in our parents’ lives.
Malaysians have not always eaten well, as we are evidently doing now.
These days, as if to take revenge for our hunger in previous generations, Malaysians are overeating to the extent that obesity has ballooned into a major threat to health.
By now, we all know the problems of obesity.
Experts claim that carrying excess weight may cause poorer brain performance, and raise the risk of developing dementia.
Diabetes and obesity can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness and gangrene of the limbs.
I myself have fallen victim in the past to the onset of obesity, for a sudden jump in my body weight in my 30s and 40s brought on Type 2 diabetes.
Soon afterwards, I was assailed by the usual diseases associated with a bad diet, such as high blood pressure and a stroke.
These are considered lifestyle diseases brought on by too much good food and too little physical exercise.
The concern over diet is not only about illnesses, but also has something to do with preserving the value of life.
We Malaysians love to eat well, and communal feasts are the most primordial occasion for shared joy.
When we sit down for family meals, we let down our hair, relax our belts and consume enough food to fill us up to our limits — and more.
I suspect that is part of the reason diabetes has become prevalent in our society.
Lately, I have noticed many young kids growing far fatter than their predecessors.
Obviously, parents have neglected the duty to promote a healthy diet among their children.
The consequences of overeating can be disastrous for the health of the family and the entire nation.
This overfeeding is understandable: in olden days, food was scarce and, perhaps scarred by that experience, parents today love their children so much that they will spare no expense on feeding them.
But eating the right amount of food and the right types of food in a balanced diet is a matter of promoting good living habits.
These habits should start with the right values in our lives.
When we look at food not merely as a source of enjoyment, but also as a means of maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, we will be on the right track.
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