Malaysia is facing the “triple burden” of tackling three aspects of malnutrition — obesity, anaemia and stunting — according to a report on global nutrition released today.
The 2018 Global Nutrition Report sources data from the World Bank Group, World Health Organisation, and The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef).
It lumps Malaysia with 40 other countries with “significant, multiple forms of malnutrition”.
Malaysia is joined by countries like Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria and Syria.
The report says Brunei only has overweight problems while Singapore is battling anaemia. Thais have overweight and stunting problems, while Indonesians face widespread anaemia and stunting.
In a statement to FMT, Unicef’s representative to Malaysia Marianne Clark-Hattingh said the findings were “extremely alarming”, given Malaysia’s standing as an “upper middle-income country”.
“This independent report is by a group of world-leading academics, researchers and government representatives.
“Malaysia is one of the very few Asian countries facing three forms of malnutrition — overweight, wasting and anemia.
“This worldwide report compels all of us to take urgent action to address the root causes of malnutrition among children in Malaysia.
“The combination of obesity, stunting and anaemia in Malaysia is the perfect storm. It’s a growing public health emergency and needs to be treated as such.”
Clark-Hattingh said the government is taking steps in the right direction to “reverse this trend” and make sure children grow up healthy, welcoming the new tax in Budget 2019 on sweetened beverages to discourage their consumption.
“The government can count on Unicef for support to encourage healthier eating habits, especially among adolescents,” she added.
The report is supported, among others, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian government and the European Commission.
The report states that poor diets are among the top causes of ill health globally, accounting for nearly one in five deaths.
Eating unhealthy food, or not having enough food, contributes to malnutrition, it added.
The report states that most countries are significantly off-track in meeting all nine targets.