5:37pm 13/11/2023
Know your risk, know your response
By:Professor Moy Foong Ming

In conjunction with the World Diabetes Day on 14 November, let us celebrate this day by knowing our risks for type 2 diabetes, take action to prevent or delay this disease.

According to our latest National Health & Morbidity Survey, the overall prevalence of type 2 diabetes among adult population was 18.3%; increased from 11.2% in 2011 and 13.4% in 2015 (Institute for Public Health, 2020).1

In addition, about half of them were undiagnosed.

Malaysia has the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the Western Pacific region and is ranked twelve globally (Ganasegeran et al., 2020).2

Knowing our risks and what to do is important to support prevention, early diagnosis and timely treatment.

You may assess Test2prevent, an online diabetes risk assessment which aims to predict an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next ten years based on the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC); or the locally modified calculator at Let’s Make a Change.

Factors predisposing to type 2 diabetes includes age and genetic predisposition which we can’t do much about. However, being overweight or obese, having abdominal obesity, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and smoking are modifiable.

In order to maintain healthy weight, we should aim to be more physically active during our daily lives.

Try walking up the stairs instead of using the lift or escalators, walk instead of drive if the distance is walkable.

We should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises (such as cycling, swimming, jogging, brisk walking, etc.), spread out over several days.

We should reduce calorie intake if overweight, control portion sizes to avoid overeating, increase the intake of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables; avoid high-fat and high-calorie food; avoid tobacco use, excessive alcohol and added sugar; choose healthier cooking methods (such as baking, grilling, steaming, stir-frying or tom yam/curry without coconut milk) instead of frying; and consume adequate number of calories according to our requirements (as per sex, age, physical activity levels).

Regular health check-ups are also recommended as early detection of the risk factors can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes when actions are taken.

Type 2 diabetes and its complications can be delayed or prevented by adopting and maintaining healthy habits.

When not detected and treated early, diabetes can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications.

Let’s know our risks of diabetes and start taking healthy lifestyle habits to prevent or delay this disease!


  1. Institute for Public Health. (2020). National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019: Non-communicable diseases, healthcare demand, and health literacy—Key Findings.
  2. Ganasegeran, K., Hor, C. P., Jamil, M. F. A., Loh, H. C., Noor, J. M., Hamid, N. A., . . . Looi, I. (2020). A systematic review of the economic burden of type 2 diabetes in Malaysia. International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health, 17(16), 5723.

(Professor Moy Foong Ming, Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya.)


Professor Dr. Moy Foong Ming


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