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(Stock image for illustration purposes) Deputy minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye said as the obesity rate was increasing, it was difficult for the government to implement any policy to reduce the rate without the involvement from the community itself.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has urged the community to play a role in creating an awareness to reduce the rate of obesity among Malaysians.

Its deputy minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye said as the obesity rate was increasing, it was difficult for the government to implement any policy to reduce the rate without the involvement from the community itself.

“If I can, I would suggest closing all mamak shops after 12 midnight.

“However, I personally feel that being a Malaysian, it is not easy. It is now part of our culture to have mamak around us open after midnight,” he said in a Distinguished Speakers Series, Malaysia’s Obesity Crisis.

Lee said in the recent budget, the government had taken steps to increase the tax for beverages with higher sugar content.

However, he said, it was not enough to only reduce the sugar consumption as high cholesterol foods also needed to be controlled in daily intake as it could also lead to obesity.

“In fact, physical activity is an important element to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce cholesterol, among others,” he said.

Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy chief executive officer (CEO) Azrul Mohd Khalib said Malaysian population was now is in a level of either being overweight or obese which includes 15 per cent of children under the age of 18.

“To address childhood obesity, we must go beyond guidelines by enforce healthy food standards in schools to improve the quality and nutrition of meals served to Malaysian schoolchildren,” he said.

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