5:18pm 13/11/2023
Diabetes and metabolic what?
By:Dr. Wan Kim Sui, Dr. Halizah Mat Rifin

World Diabetes Day is celebrated annually on the 14th of November to raise awareness about the growing health threat posed by diabetes.

The theme for 2023 is “Access to Diabetes Care”, focusing on knowing our risk of type 2 diabetes and having access to the right information and care.

Type 2 diabetes and its complications can be delayed or prevented. This requires us first to know our risk and what to do to support prevention, early diagnosis, and timely treatment.

However, the statistics are not encouraging. The National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2019 reported that 18.3% or a staggering 3.8 million adults in Malaysia were living with diabetes.

Even more worrying, almost half of them were unaware of their conditions.

Various efforts, such as the National Health Screening Initiative, community screening programs, and PeKa B40 screening, are on-going to support early diagnosis and timely treatment.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Health is conducting another round of the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2023 to provide an updated prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Malaysia.

Metabolic syndrome and metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease, two conditions closely related to type 2 diabetes but unbeknownst to many of us, are also being studied.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that raise our risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

We may have metabolic syndrome if we have three or more of the following conditions:

1. A large waistline, which is also called abdominal obesity;

2. High blood pressure;

3. High blood sugar levels;

4. High blood triglycerides, which is a type of fat found in your blood; and

5. Low HDL-cholesterol, sometimes called good cholesterol.

Metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It is usually seen in people who are overweight or obese and can lead to serious liver damage.

Indeed, fatty liver disease is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease.

The disease is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and other health issues.

Screening for fatty liver can be done by blood tests, and individuals with increased risks will require further testing.

What can the adults in Malaysia do?

1. Know your risks by doing regular health screenings.

2. Obtain the correct health information from reliable sources.

3. Talk to your doctors about metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease, especially if you are overweight or obese.

4. Eat sensibly, exercise regularly, reduce body weight (if overweight/obese), and stop smoking and alcohol drinking.

5. If you are living with diabetes, you must adhere to the management plan, including follow-up appointments.

6. Practise diabetes self-care, such as monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure at home and checking your feet regularly.

Remember, there are metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease, too!

(Dr. Wan Kim Sui and Dr. Halizah Mat Rifin, Institute for Public Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia. We thank the Director-General of Health Malaysia for permission to publish this article (NMRR ID: 22-02845-GUT).)


Dr. Wan Kim Sui
Dr. Halizah Mat Rifin


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