OVERWEIGHT and obesity occur among one in two adults in Malaysia.

Almost one-third of the adults worldwide will be overweight, and more than one billion will be obese by 2025.

“Everybody Needs to Act” was the theme for this year’s World Obesity Day, which was celebrated on March 4.

We, as part of society, should do our part to fight against obesity and change our lifestyle towards a healthier one.

Obesity is a silent killer that causes metabolic changes in our body, leading to non-communicable diseases and asymptomatic adverse consequences.

In addition, the global burden of obesity has increased the risks of many non-communicable diseases.

Obesity may induce hypertension by over-activating our sympathetic nervous system, stimulating the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, altering the adipose-derived cytokines, causing insulin resistance, and changing kidney structures and functions.

Obesity-related hypertension may lead to severe complications like heart diseases, stroke and renal diseases.

The Malaysian Community Salt Study 2017-2018 reported that obese people were four times more likely to develop hypertension than those with normal weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight helps control blood pressure and reduces the risk of complications from hypertension.

Therefore, weight loss could help reduce the risk of developing obesity-related hypertension.

The fundamental cause of obesity is an imbalance between the calories consumed and calories spent.

Hence, dietary intake and physical activities remain the key features in obtaining a healthy weight.

Here are some tips on getting started towards a healthier weight:

-> Be ready mentally and physically to be determined to change to obtain a healthier weight;

-> Set goals aiming to lose 5% to 10% of the current body weight in six months, start slow with a goal to lose 0.5kg to 1kg in a week;

-> Eat healthily with reduced calories by limiting energy intake from fats and sugar, increase fruit and vegetable intake. More tips on healthy eating are available at Nutrition Division of the Health Ministry’s Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/bahagianpemakanan;

-> Drink plenty of plain water, with six to eight glasses daily;

-> Do more activities to reduce sedentary lifestyles, such as taking short walking breaks between tasks or doing X-breaks exercises;

-> Exercise moderately and regularly at least 150 minutes a week;

-> Get expert support by joining the “I Fit and Eat Right (IFitEr)” programme of the Health Ministry at the nearest Wellness Hub; and

-> Get support from support groups at the nearest Wellness Hub, besides family and friends.

For a healthier lifestyle, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking could help enhance one’s health status in preventing non-communicable diseases like hypertension.

When one is ready to quit smoking, feel free to seek help from the Health Ministry’s JomQuit programme.

Kick start now for a healthier weight, healthier body, and healthier life.

Although we might not see the outcome of a healthy lifestyle change immediately, getting started with a strong will to persevere will contribute to a healthier self in due time.

Dr Yoong Lee Yeen

Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming

Prof Dr Sanjay Rampal

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine

Faculty of Medicine

University of Malaya