The Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia convened a policy workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 2-3rd October 2017 on addressing the global health challenge of obesity.
Addressing the global health challenge of obesity
This two-day policy workshop, chaired by Professor Datuk Dr Lai Meng Looi FASc and Professor Andrew Prentice FMedSci, enabled discussions with key stakeholders on the drivers of obesity, and the measures that can be taken to prevent it.
A written report has been produced and has been disseminated to relevant UK, Malaysian, and stakeholders in other countries, with key suggestions of the next steps to address obesity in Malaysia, the UK, and worldwide.
The report can be downloaded from the downloads tab on the right hand side of this page or by clicking on this image.
Obesity is a global epidemic that places a huge economic burden on healthcare systems, and presents a major health risk for individuals. Despite its low prevalence in Asia however, Malaysia suffers from the highest levels of obesity in the continent, with nearly half of the adult population classified as obese or overweight.
As such, the principal objective of this workshop was to consider obesity in Malaysia, as well as more globally, and to ask how we can achieve a more coherent and consistent approach to respond to the health challenges that arise from it.
This workshop brought together evidence on the prevalence, burden and determinants of obesity, and consider how health systems are responding through the provision of effective programmes for prevention and treatment. Participants ideintified gaps in our knowledge, considered lessons learnt from different countries, and informed the new Academy of Sciences Malaysia research strategy.
Click here to find out more about our other GCRF workshops and read the workshop reports.
This workshop is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund that aims to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Visit our GCRF webpage to read more about the fund.
The organisation of this workshop was overseen by a steering committee based in both Malaysia and the UK. The steering committee members were:
Co-chair: Academician Distinguished Professor Datuk Dr Lai Meng Looi FASc, Distinguished Professor and Senior Consultant Histopathologist, University of Malaya (Malaysia)
Co-chair: Professor Andrew Prentice FMedSci, Professor of International Nutrition, MRC International Nutrition Group at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK)
Emeritus Professor Dr Khor Geok Lin FASc, retired Dean, School of Health Sciences, International Medical University
Professor Dato’ Dr Anuar Zaini Md Zain FASc, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University
Professor Dr Lee Yeong Yeh, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Professor Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, Director, Scientific Foundations, Perdana University
Professor George Griffin FMedSci, Vice President, International, Academy of Medical Sciences
Professor Lucilla Poston FMedSci, Tommys Campaign Professor of Maternal & Fetal Health, Kings College London
Professor Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health, University of Oxford
Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, Medical Research Council
Addressing the global health challenge of obesity in Malaysia
The workshop aimed to identify the key barriers to progress in tackling Obesity in Malaysia including addressing psychosocial factors, changing public and political opinions on obesity and identifying areas where health interventions could be incorporated more effectively.
The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, and identified that governments need to introduce firmer change to tackle obesity including imposing a sugar tax (which, as a result, was introduced in Malaysia in July 2019), remove subsidies on production of unhealthy foods and introduce tax cuts to promote healthier lifestyle changes. Participants outlined that tackling obesity should be part of the national agenda, tackled across departments but directed and monitored at a high level.
The workshop also identified that in order to develop well-considered interventions, good-quality, national-level data needs collecting periodically and should be effectively disseminated to relevant parties (scientists, healthcare, policymakers).
In addition to gathering evidence, the workshops and report are designed to act as a catalyst for future policy activities and to build the capacity for our national partners in LMICs to do policy work. Hardcopies were disseminated to key stakeholders in Malaysia.
Top Three Impacts
- The report was presented to the Science Advisor and achieved cross-ministerial dialogue (including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government) to develop cross-ministerial/multi-pronged strategies for tackling obesity.
- The ASM Obesity Task Force was activated to consider and carry forward ASM’s roles in the short- and long-term recommendations set out in the report.
- The ASM Obesity Task Force has become an integral component of a national group to carry out and monitor cross-ministerial strategies.
The full case study can be downloaded from the download tab on the right.
International Policy Manager
Tel: 020 3141 3226View staff bio
Head of International Policy
Tel: 020 3141 3217View staff bio