Dr. George Lee, Consultant Urologist at Gleaneagles Kuala Lumpur said, “The rise in lifestyle-related diseases can be attributed to three main drivers: poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyles and work-related stress. In Malaysia, it is not uncommon for people to be sitting at their work stations for hours on end and eating out at odd hours of the night. Couple this with the fact that most Malaysians do not exercise regularly and you have a national health situation that could soon reach crisis levels if left unchecked.”
These poor choices over nutrition and fitness as well as sedentary habits are not only affecting individuals and their families, but it also has a spillover effect on the larger community. “As a market leader in Employee Benefits, AIA has seen the impact the declining health trend has had on companies’ productivity and medical expenses,” said Jamie Yu, Chief Officer of AIA Health Services Sdn. Bhd.
With medical inflation reported at 12% per annum5, the rising cost of healthcare is another reason for Malaysians to start taking stock of their health. AIA claims data showed a 19% and 41% increase in the average cost per admission for diabetes and heart disease, respectively, between 2010 and 2014.
“Lifestyle related diseases are impacting families not only physically and emotionally, but also financially. There are many cases of medical bankruptcy due to the inability of families to cope with the cost of medical care, especially when they have to pay out of their own pockets owing to inadequate medical coverage. We are asking Malaysians to take their health seriously so they can live long and happy lives,” Jamie said.
Dr. George says, “While we do have cause for concern, there is good news. Lifestyle-related diseases are very much in our control, so there is an opportunity for all of us to turn this situation around. The first step is to know your health status, understand your potential health risks and adopt a lifestyle that will enhance your wellbeing. The earlier you detect a lifestyle disease, the easier it is to manage. In fact, the survival rate for many cancers is as high as 80% if detected early.”
Consultant dietician, Indra Balaratnam, also weighs in on the importance of nutrition in the fight against lifestyle-related diseases. “Rather than experimenting with different fad diets, small changes in our eating habits can go a long way. We can start by eating out less, staying away from processed foods, eating smaller meals more frequently, piling up on vegetables and