The Ministry of Health (MOH) estimates that 73% of deaths among Malaysians are caused by non-communicable diseases.
MOH Disease Control Division deputy director Dr Omar Mihat said hypertension, diabetes and heart problems are the main killers of Malaysians – non-communicable diseases which are closely linked to unhealthy lifestyles.
“Smoking, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. These non-communicable diseases are also detected among young people each year,” he told reporters after opening the National Adolescent Health Symposium in Kota Bharu on Thursday.
Also present were Malaysian Association of Adolescent Health (Maah) chairman Dr Maimon Alias and Kelantan Health director Ahmad Razin Ahmad Mahir.
Omar said a survey conducted in 2012, involving 25,507 youths in Malaysia, revealed that only 22.8% were active, 19.1% were overweight and 7.9% were obese.
He said a study conducted by the Tobacco and E-cigarettes Survey Among Malaysian Adolescents (Tecma) in 2016 showed that the number of smokers among Malaysian adolescents has increased to 15.2% from 11.2% in 2012.
“More worryingly, from a dental examination conducted last year, it was also found that smoking was detected among pupils in primary schools,” he said.
Omar stressed that various programmes must be organised to empower efforts to raise public awareness on the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle, especially among adolescents.
He said continuous efforts should be implemented with the involvement of all parties, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports through programmes at the school level.
A healthy living environment and culture should be prioritised to produce a healthier generation in the future, as well as to reduce government spending on healthcare, he added. – Bernama