Introduction Food labeling regulation has been implemented to enable consumers,
including those with chronic diseases to make healthy informed choices
before purchasing pre-packaged foods. The purpose of this study is to
determine the prevalence of obese adults in Malaysia who practice reading
food labels. It explored types of labels read and understanding of the
Methods Findings presented in this study were captured from the secondary analysis of
National Health and Morbidity Survey’s (NHMS, 2006) food label study
which focused only on obese adults (BMI > 30 kg/m2) aged 18 and above.
This nation-wide cross sectional study was conducted from April to August
2006 using an interview-based questionnaire. Complex data analysis was
done using Stata version 12.0.
Results There were 4565 obese respondents with the mean age of 33 ± 9.7 (18 – 60
years old). About 54.7% completed high-school and 9.9% were higher degree
holders. Prevalence of obese adults who claimed to read label was 80.5%
(95%CI: 79.3, 81.6). Findings showed significant results in reading and
understanding labels among all age group categories, Malay, Indian and other
Bumiputras, all education categories and married respondents. Expiry date
was the highest percentage being read (74.5%), followed by fat content
(15.3%), vitamin (11.8%) and carbohydrate (10.9%).
Conclusions The obese population in Malaysia claimed to read and understand the food
label but did not focus on specific macronutrients related to their health
condition. Findings can be used to implement effective education
programmes targeting the relevant groups to instill an awareness to read,
understand and use the label information as one of the means in combating