Like many other countries in South-East Asia, eating is a national pastime here in Malaysia. Most people are ignorant or apathetic about the nutritional value of the food they are consuming daily.
Fast foods, processed foods, all laden with extra salt and sugar, are delivered right to our doorsteps these days – modern life is rife with possibilities that enable one to lead a very sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle, and worse, this is usually coupled with highly stressful jobs, and technological advancements that have inadvertently made us lazy, depressed and obese.
The statistics paint a dreary picture. Almost 1 in 2 Malaysians has high cholesterol according to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS 2015) and Institute of Public Health (IPH 2015). What’s more is that recent studies analysing nationwide data (Halizah et al., 2018) show that high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, is significantly associated with obesity. About 1 in 5 Malaysians is obese, and unhealthy diet and lifestyle is the established factor for obesity. In fact, Malaysia is now Asia’s fattest country.
With the rising incidences of heart disease in Malaysia, Quaker, the World’s No. 1 Oats brand, aims to help Malaysians to take care and take charge of their heart health. It is therefore, in partnership with Yayasan Jantung Malaysia (YJM), embarking on the YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge; a 30-day intervention programme, that aims to motivate and help Malaysians manage their cholesterol levels, by incorporating 2 scoops or 8 tablespoons of Quaker Oats daily, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
The YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge was officially launched by Dr. Fazilah Shaik Allaudin, Senior Deputy Director of the Medical Development Division at Medical Care Quality Section on behalf of YBhg Datuk Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, Director General of Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia, at the Invito Hotel in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur.
Also present were Ybhg Datuk Dr J.S. Sambhi, Chairman of Yayasan Jatung Malaysia, Dato Gurbakhash Singh, Vice Chairman of YJM, PepsiCo Head of Sales Mr Teh Boon Kiat and R&D Life Sciences Manager of PepsiCo-Quaker, Dr Kit Phanvijhitsiri,
Dr. Fazilah Shaik Allaudin delivered Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s speech, in which he gave grave reminders about the alarming statistics.
“Almost half the adult population of Malaysia has high cholesterol levels, yet a vast majority feels that high cholesterol does not affect them. A 2015 survey revealed that among high cholesterol patients, 38.6% (that is 7.8 million) of them were not even aware they had high cholesterol,” his speech read. “High cholesterol is in fact one of the major factors that leads to the development of heart disease. And in 2017, cardiovascular disease remained the main cause of death in hospitals under the Health Ministry, totalling 10,284 or 22.62% of the total deaths that year.”
Meanwhile, Yayasan Jantung Malaysia’s President Tun Haji Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid’s speech, delivered by Datuk Dr J.S. Sambhi, brought attention to the heart-breaking statistics of deaths caused by heart disease.
Tun Ahmad Sarji said: “It is our fervent hope that our efforts here today will galvanise the Malaysian public into prioritising a healthy lifestyle instead of taking an ‘enjoy now, worry later’ attitude. This is important because many of these risk factors are so much a part of the typical Malaysian lifestyle that it may feel strange to change them. However, these same lifestyle habits are the main reasons for Malaysia’s heart disease ‘epidemic’. We truly hope that the Malaysian public will be more open to making healthier lifestyle choices. It is the only way to stop heart disease from being the #1 killer of Malaysians!”
The mission of the YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge campaign is to educate and motivate fellow Malaysians to develop healthy eating habits and lead an active lifestyle towards reducing the risk of heart disease.
The audience at the event was also entertained by an energetic “Heartercise” dance performance before a panel of experts, including Quaker Marketing Manager Melinda Ong, Dr Kit, Datuk Dr Sambhi and Dato Gurbakhash, offered some insightful information about heart health as well as about the YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge.
Dr Kit Phanvijhitsiri, R&D Life Sciences Manager of PepsiCo-Quaker, shared that “oats contain more protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and folate than those grains or grain-derived food commonly consumed in Asian diets at the present time such as white rice, brown rice, white bread, barley and corn.”
Research has shown that oats are an effective way to help lower blood cholesterol, which in turn can reduce the risk of heart disease thanks to the power of a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, largely unique to oats. Beta glucan has been scientifically proven by notable worldwide research to effectively help lower blood cholesterol levels. It works by binding some of the cholesterol in your digestive tract, thus keeping cholesterol levels low.
The event ended with a mini tour featuring an on-the-spot cholesterol check and Overnight Oats food demonstration.
Quaker first embarked on a heart-health awareness programme with its Quaker Smart Heart Challenge over a decade ago in 2004. This year, it continues to forge ahead, aiming to reach a wider segment of society. You, too, can make the smart move to take good care of yourself by signing up for the YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge.
For more information on Quaker Oats and the Quaker Smart Heart Challenge, visit quaker.com.my and smartheartchallenge.quaker.com.my
 Non-communicable diseases, risk factors & other health problems. In: Volume II National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 (NHMS 2015). Institute of Public Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia.
 Halizah MR, Tania GRL, Nur Liana AM, Hamizatul AAH, Wan Shakira RH, Miaw YL, Thamil AS, Hasimah I, Muhammad FMY & Mohd AO (2018). Hyercholesterolemia Prevalence, Awareness, Treatment and Control Among Adults in Malaysia: The 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey, Malaysia. Global Journal of Health Science 10(7):11-23
 Euromonitor International Limited; Packaged Food 2019 edition, as per hot cereals definition, retail value sales; rsp, all retail channels, 2018 data