Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

‘Salt, Sugar, Fat: Top 10 Daily Food Favourites’ Findings from the Malaysian Adults Nutrition Survey (MANS) 2014

Khoo Yi Yi*, Mohamad Hasnan*, Yussof Sabtu*, Foo Leng Huat**

*Institute for Public Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia, **Programme of Nutrition, School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia


Introduction: The prevalence of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes has escalated over several decades. An important contributor to this rising trend includes urbanization of lifestyle practices involving unhealthy diets. This paper identifies the top ten daily food favourites among Malaysian adults containing elevated amounts of salt, sugar and fat.

Methodology: Malaysian Adults Nutrition Survey (MANS) 2014 was a nationwide cross-sectional study conducted between March and June 2014 among 3,000 adults aged 18 to 59 years old using a multi-stage stratified random sampling method. A semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) comprising 165 food items was used to identify the habitual food intake of Malaysian adults.

Results: Local kuih was the top favourite food high in salt content, consumed by 79.0% of adults, averaging 0.75 pieces/day, followed by bread [76.9% (0.84 slices, 24.00g)], mihun/kuehteow/laksa/ laksam/lohshifun [76.0% (0.20 cups, 27.72g)], soy sauce [75.6% (0.68 teaspoon, 5.86g)] and noodles [75.2% (0.22 cups, 38.08g)]. Regarding consumption of sugary foods, local kuih was still a fast favourite topping the list, then soy sauce, table sugar [74.3% (2.16 teaspoon, 15.15g)], condensed milk (creamer) [50.7% (0.77 tablespoon, 14.59g)] and ice-cream [38% (0.05 slices, 3.28g)]. Cream cracker [64.9% (1.15 slices, 8.07g)] was the preferred food of the population with the highest fat content, followed by condiment [55.7% (0.52 teaspoon, 4.67g)], fried chicken [50.1% (0.78 pieces, 7.75g)], cake [38% (0.05 slices, 5.36g)] and ice-cream.

Conclusion: Generally, Malaysian adults make discretionary food choices unnecessary for a healthy diet and are high in added salt, extra sugar and saturated fat. These optional foods may add variety and enjoyment to eating but are ‘nutrient-poor’ foods. Balance and moderation are keys to a healthy diet.