How Did MCO Raise Obesity Rates in Malaysia?

Obesity Rates in Malaysia MCO

Credits: Rojak Daily

We have been through a weird and tumultuous year, something that none of us could ever have imagined. In a time where face masks have become a norm, we double down on our safety precautions against the COVID-19 virus. However, because we focus on the spread of the said virus, we have a tendency to overlook other possible health problems, one of which is obesity. As a result, there’s a surge in the obesity rates in Malaysia during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Malaysia was placed under the Movement Control Order (MCO) to prevent the increase of COVID-19 cases in the country. Under the said ordinance, travelling- locally and overseas- are prohibited, as well as mass social gatherings. People were required to stay at home, except for essential purposes such as purchasing or delivering food, daily necessities, or medicine and travel for healthcare or medical services. With that said, your trip is usually just limited to a place within a radius of not more than 10km from your residence.

Now that regulations have eased up a bit and we’re trying to get back a sense of normalcy, we are forced to face the repercussions of having been stuck at home for a long time. Many Malaysians are scrambling to find ways to shed off the weight they have gained. How did this happen in the first place?

Unhealthy Diets during MCO

As mentioned, obesity rates in Malaysia have grown in concerning numbers since the start of the MCO implementation. Unfortunately, it is not hard to pinpoint the reason why. The time spent inside the home alludes to a sedentary lifestyle. While many people used their time to reconnect with their family or learn a new hobby, the quarantine period led some people to develop unhealthy habits.

Obesity Rates in Malaysia MCO

Credits: Living Nomad

Online food delivery services like Foodpanda and Grabfood have been convenient ways to purchase meals during this time. You have a wide range of food choices delivered to your footstep. However, it also has become somewhat of a double-edged sword. Sadly, convenience does not always equal being healthy. Usually, the cheaper and easy to grab meals are those full of fat, sugar, and calories.

Obesity Rates in Malaysia MCO


It just so happens that fatty and calorie-rich foods are what many people gravitate towards to reduce stress. The pandemic has been a stressful time both mentally and emotionally. Because there’s not much to do in the confines of their own home, many Malaysians turned to binge eating to gain a sense of relief. As it is easier to have food delivered, there’s a bigger temptation to binge on as much food as they can.

That is not always the case, though. Other people, now they have more downtime, have spent their time carefully planning their meals. Being at home allows you to start creating healthier food choices. With that said, it takes time, effort, and resources to do so. It can be the case that many people have limited access to fresh produce due to the restrictions.

Inactivity during MCO

Malaysians are not only creating unhealthy meal choices, but they also have become increasingly inactive.

Credits: (Couch Potato) Just in case you don’t get this joke.

As you spend most of your time at home, it is easy to succumb to the comfort of your bed or couch. The amount of time you usually spend walking outdoors is now dedicated in front of a computer or television. Even people who are used to going to gyms or working out can’t do so as facilities are currently closed. It is also not for leisure. Many Malaysians choose to cram themselves up on a desk and focus on work, a way to distract them from what’s happening around them.

Again, this is an excellent time to continue or even start being more physically active. Let your body sweat even for a couple of minutes a day. One problem you might face is space. There’s only so much wiggle inside our home. It may be due to its design or the number of people who live in it, but physical activity is not always conducive inside the house. However, that is not enough reason to stay stagnant. There are many online resources teaching exercises that can be done in a small space without any equipment. Even doing household chores can be considered a productive daily activity.

Pair unhealthy eating habits with a lack of physical activity, it’s no longer surprising why obesity rates in Malaysia have increased.

Obesity Rates in Malaysia

As the world becomes hyper-aware of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has lost sight of long-standing epidemics like obesity. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), obesity has been a global public health concern since 1975, with at least 2.8 million people dying each year due to being overweight or obese.

High obesity rates in Malaysia is not a new issue. Malaysia had the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in South-East Asia at 15.6%, according to the World Population Review 2019.

Obesity Rates Malaysia

Credits: Medlife

The same year, the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) revealed that 50.1% of the adult population were considered overweight or obese, with 30.4% considered overweight and 19.7% obese. The NHMS 2019 data also shows that the overweight and obesity rates in Malaysia were exceptionally high among women (54.7%), ethnic Indians (63.9%), and the 55 to 59 age group (60.9%).

Furthermore, 1 out of 2 cases has abdominal obesity, where excess fat accumulates in the stomach and abdomen area. The conditions lead to the development of several chronic illnesses. Some of the conditions brought by excessive weight include heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer, lung and breathing problems, and even dementia.

Obesity Treatments in Malaysia

As the obesity rates in Malaysia increase, the availability of treatments has become more common. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Nik Rtiza, a celebrity bariatric surgeon in Malaysia is one of the doctors in Malaysia actively trying to promote the different surgeries available to help the fight against obesity.

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Nik Ritza Kosai Nik Mahmood

The development of obesity usually boils down to four factors: food, physical activity, environment, and genetics. While it happens, it is impossible to develop obesity through genetics alone. It is more common to gain excessive amounts of weight because of abundant quantities of food and the lack of physical activity. Thus, diet and exercise is still an effective way for those looking to lose weight.

However, not all find success with traditional means of weight loss. People diagnosed with morbid obesity find that diet and exercise alone does not give them the result they need. That’s why alternative weight loss solutions have also grown in popularity. Bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are usually recommended for more severe cases of obesity. It eliminates a portion of the stomach or digestive tract to limit food intake, thus decreasing calorie intake.

For those looking for non-invasive weight loss treatments, then you can opt for weight loss balloons, specifically the Allurion Elipse™ Balloon.

Allurion Elipse™ Balloon is the first and only swallowable weight loss balloon in Malaysia. Unlike other weight loss balloons, Elipse™ requires no surgery, endoscopy, or anaesthesia. The inflated balloon comes as a capsule attached to a thin catheter. The capsule form allows you to ingest it with a glass of water.

Swallowable Weight Loss Balloon Singapore

The placement of the balloon is performed by a certified healthcare professional. An X-ray is done to make sure that the balloon is placed properly inside the stomach. The capsule dissolves, and the balloon is then filled with 550ml of water, or until it is the size of a grapefruit. The healthcare professional will run another X-ray to see if it is adequately filled. The whole process only takes 20 minutes.

Once placed in the stomach, the balloon takes up space that food usually would. As a result, you feel full faster despite eating fewer portions of food than you usually would. It also delays gastric emptying, allowing the food to remain in the stomach and make you feel full longer. The balloon helps you lessen the amount of food you eat and, in turn, minimize calories.

The swallowable weight loss balloon lasts for 16 weeks. After that period, a time-activated release valve opens and allows the balloon to deflate, where the remnants of the balloon are naturally excreted through your bowel movement. People who use Allurion Elipse™ Balloon are said to help lose an average of 10-15% of their body weight within 16 weeks.

Allurion Elipse™ Balloon alone is not enough for a sustainable weight loss. The balloon usually comes within a program that helps you create changes in your lifestyle for a healthy weight loss journey. You can choose to work with a team of professionals, including doctors & nutritionists to help you along the way. You’ll also be registered in the Allurion smart scale and app, which allows you and your professional team to monitor your progress.

The increasing obesity rates in Malaysia is no laughing matter. While we’re still fighting this pandemic, it is also essential to keep an eye on our weight and the lifestyle choice we make. With that said, being diagnosed with obesity is not the end. There are many opportunities out there for you to continue living a fruitful life. Stay vigilant and stay healthy.