PUTRAJAYA, May 16 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad today said that the government will wage a war against sugar through a major campaign as the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2023 revealed that the number of adults who were overweight or living with obesity was on the rise in Malaysia.

The Ministry of Health will introduce a grading system for sugary drinks to combat sugar’s negative impact on health, he added.

“Obesity in adults have increased. One of the reasons for this rise is excessive sugar consumption.

“In the near future, the Ministry of Health will introduce a grading system for sugar content,” he told reporters here, today.

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He acknowledged that although other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) were seeing a decline, the overconsumption of sugar could have a direct correlation with the diabetes rate in Malaysia.

He noted that although other NCDs, such as hypertension and diabetes, were on a downtrend, compared to data last compiled in 2019, sugar remains the enemy.

Putrajaya will launch a large-scale campaign advocating for reduced sugar consumption through the “War on sugar” initiative which would include promoting a healthy lifestyle and health literacy.

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Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli said that people have high health literacy but their actions do not reflect it.

Last year, around 1.5 million people were screened for diabetes and the Health Ministry targets screening two million this year, she said.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2023 launched by the Ministry of Health today revealed that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in Malaysia as 3.6 million or one in six Malaysian adults is currently suffering from diabetes.

The survey also showed that 84 per cent of adults aged 18 to 29 were unaware that they have diabetes — although the prevalence of diabetes in this age group remains low.