About 50 percent of Malaysians were obese and overweight while only 19 percent exercised and participated in sports.

Eat right, enjoy life! – Yeah Right!

I was doing some online research (yes I do research! hahaha) and came across a couple of interesting articles:

Our government obviously has a role to promote health, wellness etc tetapi it is the right of the people (like me) to express our opinions – for the goodness of our nation…chewah hahaha.

My outlook on health and sports is largely due to my upbringing in Germany’s primary education system. I was a naturally gifted athlete but was still encouraged to pursue sports throughout the year. It was fun. The best childhood I could ever wish for. Coming to Malaysia as a secondary student, it was difficult as sports was generally implied as unnecessary. Most students here focus primarily on their studies alone. This carries into their adulthood and beyond. Is that what Malaysia really wants?

50% of Malaysians Are Obese

Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said….about 50 percent of Malaysians were obese and overweight while only 19 percent exercised and participated in sports…

Do I agree? Yes sure and I am not here to argue otherwise. But I have two problems:

  1. 1.

    Role Models: It is somewhat conflicting for the ministry of health to talk about obesity if some of their own presidents or vice-presidents are…well obese! I know its not nice to highlight this but in order for people to listen and take notice, you need to gain their respect. You need to walk the talk!

    I think this does not only applies to the ministry or government. There are a lot of nutrition experts that preach their secrets etc but how would anyone take them seriously if their own advice doesn’t even work for themselves.(Refer to my post on slimming centers)

  2. 2.

    Whats the solution? Its easy to point out the problems. Its easy to say that 50% of Malaysians are obese. Those that are know it too. Its easy to say the Proton cars are “not good”. The real question is: What are you going to do about it? or How do we fix the problem?

Awareness is NOT the problem

We always hear how the government is trying to “raise awareness” on health, exercising and so forth. Well its not that it is no good but I am pretty sure that the overall public is already “aware”! I’m sure that an obese person knows that they are obese. I’m sure those that don’t exercise are aware that they should. Or smokers know that smoking ain’t gonna help your lungs. You get the idea kan!

The problem is not about creating awareness it about coming up with solutions!

My solution to Malaysia’s Obesity Problems

I have summarized my solution in a proposal and shared with Malaysia’s Kementerian Belia dan Sukan Negara (both pre and post election). The proposal essentially would work for both students and adults. Its involves a change in our education/sports system but my proposal DOES NOT involve a lot of money. It is based on the German sports development system. It can be downloaded here for free. Why share? Well, why not! I have and will continue to offer my services and opinion. Makes me feel good. :)

[download id=”13″]

Obesity is a worldwide plaque. Hence its not limited to Malaysians nor is it going to be easy to “solve”. In fact we are not talking about a solution but a way to reduce obesity.

Lets look what our health minister said again: …only 19% of Malaysians exercise…

Now my next question would be: Who are these 19 percent? Well I don’t have the data but I have a pretty good idea. In my opinion the 19 percent are largely made out of those people who either were active during school days – in other words those who represented their school in sports OR those who got inspired later in life. Why? Coz if you don’t represent your school in sports, you are generally discourage to participate as sports is considered a “waste of time”. Although schools encourages “extra curricular” activities, these are often forced on the students. Human psychology will tell you that you should embed and not force your believes.

So how can you embed exercise and wellbeing into Malaysians?

In needs to start in schools. School need to promote (not force) sports and other leisure activites to children. Make sports and recreation part of their lives as kids. Not just once a year during the “hari sukan” or “pertandingan antara rumah sukan” but a round the year experience just like in Europe and the US. This way sports, health and the awareness becomes part of one’s life, forever.

Trying to change old habits is virtually impossible! Its the future of Malaysia that we should worried about.

So the question(s) the government bodies should ask themselves should/could be:

  • How can we make sports a year long campaign for students and everyone else?
  • How can we encourage everyone (not just the naturally gifted) to participate in sports?
  • How can a working professional actively involve himself in competitive sports? People need to stay motivated and competition motivates.
  • How can Malaysia produce mentally strong athletes from young, if your talent pool is no limited and their hardly get any competition?

The answer, in my opinion, is to adapt the European sports club system in Malaysia: its cheap, efficient and it works! Download my “Malaysian Sports Club Proposal” here :D

Kevin Zahri

I am a US certified personal trainer and nutritionist with over 12 years experience. Over the years, I have published over 10 books, written for Men's Health, other fitness and lifestyle magazines, hosted TV shows and appeared on various TV shows, programs and magazines. I am also an avid corporate wellness speaker and web entrepreneur.

More about me here or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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  • wahid anwar

    I agree very few of our adult population bother to exercise.Health awareness education should start early at primary school level.Education Ministry should improve and beautify sports facilities at shool level ie build mini futsols etc.Organize inter school competition on regular basis.Municipal Councils build comprehensive sports facilities in their respective areas and maintain them propoerly.

  • definitely agree with u wahid.

    Rather than spending millions on oversea infra why not improve the standard and quality of local school’s sports facilities.

  • Gee

    it’s not that i hate exercises..but having to spend my weekdays for almost 12 hours at school for the xtra co-cum activities is far hectic enough..i ended up sleeping in my working clothes upon reaching home and often woke up confused cos the house would seem 2 b very quiet..cos everybody was sleeping da…so kevin..bila masa nak exrcse nie…huhu

  • Hi Kevin… i’ve been reading your informative blog but decided to leave comment for this entry…
    Obesity has increased in its prevalence..and more and more Malaysian are affected with Metabolic Syndrome…an entity which carries significant risk in cardio metabolic disease. It is dissapointing to treat those obese people who has poor insight and they eventually end up with cardiometabolic disease, obtructive sleep apneoa and others….Disaster.

  • Gee – the when is really up 2 u…..bergantung on your schedule. I believe that ia adalah tanggungjawap to balance your life, work and health. If work takes control…well thats not a good sign.

    Syukur – thanks for reading my blog. Agreed. Metabolic Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolic_syndrome) is just a medial label for those that are obese. its a fight that will continue to get worse as our lives become more and more sedentary. Just look at kids nowadays….its all about stayin indoors with playstations and parents being afraid of kidnappings etc

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