A literature search of articles as detailed in the paper Bibliography of clinical research in Malaysia: methods and brief results, using the MESH terms Obesity; Obesity, Abdominal; and Overweight; covering the years 2000 till 2015 was undertaken and 265 articles were identified. Serial population studies showed that the prevalence of obesity increased rapidly in Malaysia in the last decade of the twentieth century. This follows the rising availability of food per capita which had been begun two to three decades previously. Almost every birth cohort, even up to those in their seventh decade increased in prevalence of overweight and obesity between 1996 and 2006. However, the rise in prevalence in obesity appears to have plateaued after the first decade of the twentieth century. Women are more obese than men and Malays and Indians are more obese than Chinese. The Orang Asli (Aborigines) are the least obese ethnic group in Malaysia but that may change with socioeconomic development. Neither living in rural areas nor having low income protects against obesity. On the contrary, a tertiary education and an income over RM4,000/month is associated with less obesity. Malaysians are generally not physically active enough, in the modes of transportation they use and how they use their leisure time. Other criteria and measures of obesity have been investigated, such as the relevance of abdominal obesity, and the Asian criteria or Body Mass Index (BMI) cut-offs value of 23.0 kg/m2 for overweight and 27.0 kg/m2 for obesity, with the view that the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases start to increase at lower values in Asians compared to Europeans. Nevertheless the standard World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for obesity are still most widely used and hence is the best common reference. Guidelines for the management of obesity have been published and projects to combat obesity are being run. However, more effort needs to be invested. Studies on intervention programmes showed that weight loss is not easy to achieve nor maintain. Laboratory research worldwide has uncovered several genetic and biochemical markers associated with obesity. Similar studies in Malaysia have found some biomarkers with an association to obesity in the local population but none of great significance.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.