Dietitians in high demand

July 13, 2012

MALAYSIA – To help fight the rising non-communicable disease (NCD) among Malaysians, the Health Ministry announced plans of hiring more dietitians in public hospitals. Health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said most NCD such as diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure were caused my unhealthy eating habits.

“We must tackle the problem from the source which is by practising a healthy diet and create easier access between dietitians and the public,” he said after launching the Malaysian Dietitians’ Association Scientific Conference and General Meeting in Sunway, Selangor.

“Because those who think they do not have time for healthy eating will soon have to find time for illness,” he added.

He said the statistics of overweight and obese Malaysians was worrying. In 1996 only 4.4% of Malaysians were obese but last year the figures shot up to over 15 % with a Body Mass Index of more than 30, he said.

Liow added that NCD saw a rise in the past years. In 2006 only 11% of Malaysians had diabetes but in 2011 the figure shot  up to 15.1% While, Malaysians with high cholesterol level  rose from 20% to 35%  in the same period.

“It is time for dietitians and nutritionists to be given a bigger role to take care of the nation’s health.” We will send out our dietitians to the ground to educate the public,” he said.

Liow said dietitians and nutritionists can also work together in rural areas to create awareness on preventive measures to combat NCD at the grass root level.

“The public should be reminded of proper eating habits and observing a healthy lifestyle before it is too late,”
He said chronic diseases can be avoided if the public maintained healthy eating habits and selected the right food to obtain the needed nutrients.

“Dietitians can play an important role in increasing awareness on healthy eating habits which would eventually bring down NCD,” he said adding that their services was also needed to improve the preventive and curative field.

He said every year 200 dieticians are being employed and at present there 650 dietitians.

“We have increased the number of dietitians to 300 under the ministry and would continue to raise the numbers.”

“We would like to also urge the private sector to follow suit,” he added.

Liow said dietitians could also work with specialists and doctors in treating patients.
“They also work with medical doctors when treating patients to ensure the patients do not contract NCD by giving dietary advice.”

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Dietititan Association president Indra Balaratnam said the association was ready to take up the role in educating the public on healthy eating habits to fight NCD.

“The public can approach us for advice on diet even before they contract NCD which will help create a healthier nation.” he said.

The association also suggested for the Health Ministry to have strict regulations on sugar content in food products.

“There should be a cut off point to minimise sugar consumption among the public.”

She added that the regulation should not be a one off effort but a continuous one by all parties in fighting NCD.

The public were also urged to log on to the association’s website at for more dietary and nutrition related matters.

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