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Does putting on the pounds mean prosperity?

Published on 18 March 2018|
2 min read

If we’re prosperous and well-fed, does that mean overweight and obesity are knocking at our door?

by Stanley P, Carrybeans

Through the annuls of world history, civilisations have seen fatness as a sign of prosperity and health.

From ‘fattening rooms’ to special diets

Many ancient rulers were large and bulky, with rolls of fat that happily kept their navels hidden. Back then when famines were rife, if you were obese, it meant you ate well and were healthy.

In his reign, Henry VII became obese over time, which played a part in his death in 1547 / Credit: History Hit

As civilisations birthed and passed, obesity stayed as an indication of all things good, a reflection of power and social status. The Efik of Nigeria traditionally had ‘fattening huts’, where girls stayed up to two years putting on weight to make them more attractive for marriage.

Today, fattening rooms still exist for anyone seeking weight gain, especially before marriage. In many African societies, the larger you are the more prosperous you’re believed to be. And that may be somewhat true, but with it comes obesity and health issues related to it.

Are Malaysians obese because we are rich?

This conversation cropped up recently after a politician  claimed Malaysians are obese as a result of how prosperous our country is. “Many die from overeating while many are also obese and contract diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases because they eat meat everyday,” Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin said recently.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin / Credit: The Star

His statement surprised many, and understandably so. But as controversial as Bung Mokhtar’s statement might be, it certainly has brought the topic of food, nutrition and obesity into the spotlight.

What are health experts saying?

Okay, some parts of the world may still equal body size to be proportionate to how much wealth you have amassed. But that’s not always true these days. According to Malaysian Dietitian’s Association president Prof Winnie Chee, while there is some connection between income and obesity, poor people can suffer from obesity as well.

Let’s be real: eating healthy can be  expensive. Fruits and other organic produce burn a hole in our wallets. Not only that, preparation of healthy food can be more time-consuming and inconvenient. So, it’s no wonder many low-income families or individuals would prefer to tapau or have an instant noodle dinner.

On top of that, the lack of an active lifestyle is also a contributing factor to how obese we are. Living in the city can be very hectic and most people might not have the time to exercise. Wealthier people tend to have the resources for healthier lifestyles, such as gym memberships, but that doesn’t mean they break a sweat often enough.

How can you lead a healthier lifestyle without breaking your bank?

Credit: skeeze

It’s so easy to be caught up with the busy lifestyle, but at the same time it is also important to take care of your health. But Malaysia, a haven of all good food, doesn’t make it that simple! We know.

Here are some small ways you can stay fit in this day and age:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits. It doesn’t have to be imported ones; a small bundle of bok choy and a papaya from your local market will not cost you a fortune.
  • Consume less oily and sugary foods/drinks.
  • Exercise more! If you don’t have the time for it, you can just walk up and down the stairs of your office block during your lunch break.
  • Don’t have late-night snacks. Studies suggest eating late at night might lead to weight gain and higher blood sugar levels.

Do know any other health tips in the fight against obesity? Let us know in the comments below.

Speaking of health, did you know that Sabah has the highest number of mental health issues in Malaysia?

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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