Obesity is primary cause of diabetes among young Malaysians

Diabetes can be seen even among children as young as 5 years old


OBESITY is the primary reason why Malaysian children are diagnosed with diabetes, followed by sedentary lifestyles, according to the National Diabetes Institute (Nadi).

Nadi executive chairman Datuk Dr Mustaffa Embong (picture; right) said diabetes among Malaysians can be seen even among children as young as five years old.

“The main cause for that would be obesity, where Malaysia is known as the fattest country in the South-East Asian region.

“The thing is, with every diabetes screening, we also find that the individual may have high-blood pressure and heart problems, so if parents don’t manage their children’s diabetes, they are at risk of early death,” he told reporters at the mobile clinic handover from Central Sugars Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) to Nadi yesterday.

He also said all is not lost when one is diagnosed with diabetes at an early age, but it is necessary to make the correct management moves and that is why Nadi is raising awareness of diabetes.

“If the children are cared for, undergo proper treatment and make changes in their lifestyles, then they will be able to live longer and healthier.

“It’s sad that in Malaysia, 50% of the population are either overweight or obese,” he said.

According to the World Population Review 2019, the country’s prevalence of obesity among adults in South-East Asia stands at 15.6%, followed by Brunei at 14.1%, Thailand at 10% and Indonesia at 6%. In addition, 49% of diabetics in Malaysia have never been screened or diagnosed, which shows a lack of awareness or proactive in checking.

With this in mind, CSR has handed over a new mobile clinic to replace the institute’s 10-year-old vehicle used for roadshows at both urban and rural venues.

CSR COO Victor Ng (right) said the handover elevates the two parties’ currently one and a half year partnership, an agreement that runs from 2019 to 2021.

CSR and Nadi have been collaborating to promote a healthy lifestyle among Malaysians, with a commitment to spread awareness of consuming sugar responsibly and fighting diabetes.

“The CSR-Nadi mobile clinic will certainly help in spreading diabetes awareness and prevention programme while serving the greater community, especially those in rural areas to do screening and counselling on the treatment and medication of diabetes,” he said.

The mobile clinic carries all required facilities to perform eye examination, blood tests and electrocardiogram for heart problems.

Ng also added that the mobile clinic itself, in terms of retrofitting and reworking, costs as much as RM300,000.

“Currently, the mobile clinic runs in the Peninsular, but we are hoping to make this collaboration longterm as it is a part of our corporate social responsibility, perhaps someday, we can also cover Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

To date, seven roadshows have been organised at both urban and rural venues via the partnership, and the mobile clinic will enable the institute to provide a more convenient setting for health screenings during the roadshows.

Nadi also intends to resume its roadshows by October 2020 after it was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and for safety reasons, will require a standard operating procedure as the roadshows typically receive between 200 and 300 patients, excluding family members.