KUALA LUMPUR: Ordering all food outlets to close by midnight is not the solution to tackling the growing incidence of diabetes in this country, according to academics.
Universiti Sains Malaysia professor of medicine and director of its Health Campus in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Datuk Dr Mafauzy Mohamed said diabetes could only be controlled if Malaysians gave up their unhealthy eating habits.
“Stopping 24-hour restaurants from operating all day and night is not a good solution… this is because people will find other ways to get their food even if their favourite outlets are closed late at night,” he told Bernama.
He was commenting on Diabetes Malaysia Vice President Jong Koi Chong’s recent call to the government to stop food outlets from operating 24 hours in order to fight the growing incidence of diabetes in the country.
Mafauzy said the problem with Malaysians was that they were generally not too concerned about their health and were not cautious about their food intake.
“If there are no 24-hour restaurants, they will probably cook and eat, and even stock up food and snacks (in their fridge),” he said.
According to the Malaysian National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015, the overall prevalence of diabetes in the country had increased from 15.2 per cent in 2011 to 17.5 per cent last year.
It was reported that out of the 17.5 per cent, only 8.3 per cent knew they had the disease while 9.2 per cent were previously undiagnosed.
Mafauzy, meanwhile, called for the implementation of school-level diabetes awareness and educational programmes to educate children on the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes.
“The danger of diabetes must be brought to the attention of the young to compel them to adopt healthy eating habits,” he said, adding that in Singapore, schools with obese students were required to carry out more physical activities after class for the children concerned.
“It will be good for our schools to practice this as well,” he said.
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia senior lecturer Prof Datuk Dr Nik Nasri Nik Ismail said having diabetes awareness programmes alone may not be workable as Malaysians must first change their attitude towards food.
“It’s all about changing our eating habits and controlling our food intake, as well as getting ourselves to participate in physical activities around the neighbourhood.
“The availability of 24-hour restaurants and fast-food outlets may be one of the reasons for the increase in diabetes cases in Malaysia, but making them close early may not be the solution to reducing the incidence of this non-communicable disease,” said Nik Nasri, who is attached to the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Science.
He said even in countries like the United States which did not have many 24-hour eateries, the number of people suffering from diabetes was on the rise.