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Unhealthy food practices, lack of physical activity main causes of obesity

Unhealthy food practices, lack of physical activity main causes of obesity

PUTRAJAYA, April 24 ― Unhealthy eating practices and lack of physical activity are among the main components that lead to obesity, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said any allegation that 24-hour restaurants are the main cause of obesity in Malaysia must be proven empirically that is through objective and comprehensive studies.

“Prohibiting eateries to operate for 24 hours (demand-side restriction) will not guarantee consumers will not look for alternatives,” he told the media when met after the ‘Majlis Sulaman Kasih di Aidilfitri’, organised by the National Unity Ministry here today.

He said this when asked to comment on the Consumers’ Association of Penang’s (CAP) proposal calling for restaurants to be banned from operating 24 hours a day to help reduce health and obesity problems in the country.

Dzulkefly said each individual is responsible for their own eating habits and lifestyle.

“Any change in individual behaviour requires a high level of awareness and health literacy. However, in Malaysia, one in three individuals has a low level of health literacy,” he said.

Dzulkefly said CAP’s proposal, to prohibit eateries from operating for 24 hours, will be refined and this includes holding an engagement session with all stakeholders so that the issue can be resolved comprehensively and the recommendation for a solution will have a clear direction and outcome.

“The proposal paper will be prepared for scrutiny and further action by the Health Ministry and government,” he said.

Dzulkefly also explained that there is an urgent need for groups such as front-line workers comprising the police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and security personnel which depend on the services of 24-hour restaurants.

“By stopping services in bulk (supply-side restriction), it will cause difficulties for them,” he added.