18 May 2017
DESPITE the fact that Malaysia has an incredibly varied choice of fruits, Malaysians consume alarmingly little fruits.
Fruits don't even break into the top 10 daily consumed foods among Malaysian adults, according to the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama).
The fact of the matter is that the percentage of adults consuming the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables have been decreasing. Currently, based on the National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015, it is estimated that only 6% of adult Malaysians consume sufficient fruits and vegetables as opposed to the 7.5% recorded in 2011.
While this may seem like a lifestyle choice, it is actually a health concern.
According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, an estimated 5.6 million to 7.8 million deaths worldwide in 2013 could potentially have been prevented yearly if people had consumed 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day
However, most Malaysian adults do not even consume the daily recommended two servings of fruits.
Here are several common traits as to why most Malaysians are lagging in the consumption of fruits:
With nine out of 10 Malaysian employees expecting their jobs to be more challenging over the next five years amidst the volatile job market, many strive to be high-performing. Almost 75% of Malaysians, according to a survey in 2014 by Nestle Kit Kat, admitted to working two to five hours of overtime.
Spending most of their waking hours in the workplace leaves them with little social time, much less time to head to their nearest grocery store or market to get fresh fruits.
We have grown accustomed to having things quickly and at our fingertips, which has translated into a shorter attention span. Even stories online have to be “bite-sized” for easy consumption.
In this fast-paced environment, it is all about convenience and a hassle-free experience for the working majority.
The same can be said for the hassle of buying fruits and cutting them – this is very much a deterrent to the working adults. If there are additional steps to its consumption, people are likely to say no.
Even without the recent increase of 4.1% in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in respect of the food and non-alcoholic beverages group, the cost of fresh fruits has been off-putting, much less the exorbitant price for buying organic fruits.
Many have exploited the growing consumer trend of healthy and organic eating for better health benefits, with organic products costing up to 400% more.
With multiple reports of food poisoning outbreaks nationwide due to improper handling of food, many are wary when it comes to food safety, especially in respect of freshly cut fruits that are done outside.
So how do we achieve a balanced diet amidst our busy lifestyle?
A lack of fruits in one's diet and a sedentary lifestyle due to the busy workload that a majority of working professionals lead don't bode well for the health outlook of the Malaysian population.
Fruits and vegetables have been found to be beneficial to health irrespective of weight, physical activity levels, smoking and even overall diet, where a mere 200g of fruits daily can already have positive health benefits.