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Opinion

Let’s Talk About Obesity And Where We Eat — Kimberly Wong & Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming

It is pertinent that all of us play a part in creating an environment which facilitates weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.  

Accessibility fast food can lead to increased intakes of processed meat, poultry and red meat, eggs, soda, and refined grains. (Photo by Robin Stickel/Pexels)

The proportion of overweight and obese adults increases concurrently with the proportion of eating out in Malaysia. 

A normal restaurant meal provides at least half of the daily energy requirements of an adult. Foods sold at restaurants and convenience stores usually contain lots of sugar, salt, and oil, but fewer vegetables and fruits.

No intervention would be effective in preventing obesity if the environment does not facilitate a healthier way of eating. 

Our study found that accessibility to fast-food restaurants led to increased intakes of fast food, processed meat, poultry and red meat, eggs, soda, and refined grains, particularly among males. This type of dietary pattern contains higher calories, which can lead to obesity. 

Similarly found in another study, the perceived neighbourhood food environment in terms of perceived availability, accessibility, and affordability of healthy food and to different food store types was associated with diet quality, which in turn led to obesity among adults.  

Therefore, in addition to enhancing nutrition literacy, it is pertinent that all of us play a part in creating an environment which facilitates weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.  

A healthy restaurant should include the following criteria:

  • Availability of healthier menu sets. 
  • Increase vegetable dishes or provides at least one serving of vegetables in every dish. 
  • Availability of fresh fruits.
  • Availability of sugarless beverage and plain water or plain tea with no or minimal charge. 
  • Availability of whole grains options.
  • Prominent tagging of calorie on the menu. 
  • Promotion of healthier menu sets.

We are not just what we eat, but also where we eat.

Kimberly Wong and Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming are from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.

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