PETALING JAYA: It does not matter if you are a senior citizen or teenager – when it comes to weight issues, all are deeply affected.
This is shown by the response to a recently launched helpline for weight management, which sees callers from below 21 to those aged above 60.
According to the helpline call centre, more than half of the callers are below 21 and at least 10 are above 60.
As at last Friday, about 50% of the centre’s 140 callers were found to be obese while some 30% were overweight and the rest has normal weight.
The helpline was set up by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society to help combat the worrying increase of obesity in the country.
“We are keeping a close watch on the progress of the programme. We hope that we will be able to see whether it is possible to make an impact on the prevalence of obesity in the country,” said its president Datuk Nancy Ho.
According to the latest Health Ministry statistics released in December last year, about 15% of Malaysians are obese – a 1% increase since 2006 – and almost half of all adult Malaysians are either overweight or obese.
Ho said the programme to assist and counsel people who were overweight or obese was a combination of diet, nutrition, lifestyle modification and, if necessary, a spectrum of medication.
“We have a group of pharmacists, nutritionists and dietitians who will hold the participants’ hands and walk them through the whole process,” she said, adding that it would take about four months.
She said the option of calling the helpline might also appeal to those who might be too shy to come forward to seek help for their weight issues.
“The information shared with the helpline staff is confidential. It would help if someone shares their details with us, but it is also okay if they do not wish to do so,” said Ho.
Although the society hoped that more would seek help from the helpline, it said it would continue to monitor the progress of the programme and publicise it accordingly.
The toll-free helpline number is 1-300-800-373 and it is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays.