Childhood Obesity and Ways to Prevent and Overcome It

Alright, where do I start?

I was invited by Bernama to be one of their esteemed panelists for their LIVE, English language talk show, ‘The Nation’ on Monday, 12th February 2018, speaking about CHILDHOOD OBESITY IN MALAYSIA. 

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts, I wasn’t feeling well the past weeks with me and the boys down with some kind of bug going around but this is a topic I feel strongly about. I advocate outdoor playtime for children. I get upset when I don’t see enough children in the playground in the evenings hence I would not want to miss this for the world. 

I accepted the invitation and proceeded to write down some notes about my thoughts on childhood obesity and what can be done to prevent it. I know it is only a 30-minutes session roundtable discussion with 4 panelists including myself so we won’t have much time to say a lot but I still list down a whole lot of information as I believe I can use them in my blog post later on. 

So here is my blog post and this is my thought:

First and foremost, I don’t get why people in general perceive a chubby baby as cute and a slim baby as malnourished. I get that all the time with both my boys especially Ayden as he was fully breastfeed hence he wasn’t as chubby as Ethan who was formula fed. Now, I’m not going to start a debate on BM vs FM as both my boys are doing fine today. In fact, FM helped me tremendously with Ethan as being a first time mother, I did not know how and fell sick often even to the point of suffering from postpartum depression. I did not have enough milk to feed him, resorted to FM to keep him alive and maintain my sanity so I shall let that topic end here.

But my concern is how parents succumb to peer pressure and force feed their children for them to grow ‘chubby’ to be accepted as ‘cute’ in our society. These cute babies will eventually grow into a chubbier kid and if their eating habits and lifestyle remain the same, they will most likely grow into an obese adult with much health complications. 


I cannot stress enough how important outdoor playtime is to me and my children. I make sure the boys get enough movement everyday. I work their routine to revolve around their playground time. I make sure I don’t schedule anything during these hours. No music lessons, no curriculum and if possible, no work appointments (on my part) for these couple of hours. When you make it your priority, it will start to work for you but from my observation during our time in the playground, there are only a handful of children out there including my boys. I live in a neighbourhood of about 400 homes yet only 20 kids (or less) are present every evening. This is certainly alarming. My question is, where are the rest of the children? Are they at home? What are they doing? Playing video games? Glued to the television? Or are they still in tuition classes? 

Children are natural runners. They are not meant to stay passive for a long period of time. They need regular physical activity. It is important for them to be physically active to fight the obesity epidemic. Parents, do make the time to bring your kids outdoor if not everyday, at least three to four days weekly. You’ll be amazed how some fresh air and sunshine bring a positive effect on your kids as well as yourself. 


More and more families dine out these days as both parents are working. When people dine out, they usually have drinks to go with their meals. The choice of drinks you choose plays a very important role. Avoid ordering carbonated or cordial drinks. These are a major source of empty calories and only add up to our daily total sugar intake. My family will drink plain water or freshly squeezed juice without sugar with our meals. Having said that, I don’t deprive my boys from carbonated or sugary drinks. I grew up getting to drink them every once in a while too and I carry this on with my boys. They do get to drink these stuffs but only as a rare treat; certainly not on a daily or weekly basis.  

It is the same with fast food. Growing up, KFC or McD were something we looked forward to having on special occasions such as birthdays and festivities. These days, people flock to fast food joints too often as it is convenient and affordable. We need to change this. People need to cook more. It is not difficult to dish out a healthier meal at home. I spend only half an hour daily to steam fish and stir-fry vegetables. I boil soup the night before in my multi-cooker and my family gets to eat simple home-cooked meal everyday. This is very important for me as the boys and I go for food reviews often so whenever we are home, I make sure we eat simple yet healthy home-cooked meal. 


If you are an avid follower of my boys, you’ll know that they cook. Getting your kids involve in food preparation is extremely important. It is crucial for them to know what goes into their food. Educate them on what is good and what is not. This way, they will be able to judge for themselves that food with high oil, sugar or salt content is not a healthier choice. 


As I’ve mentioned, I do not deprive my boys from all these so-called unhealthy food but limit it to them once in a month or maybe once in a couple of months. What I do is offer them an alternative. If they ask for snacks, instead of giving them chips or candy, I offer slices of fresh fruits. If the boys are craving for cold drinks on a hot day, they won’t get Coke or anything like it. Instead, I’ll take out the juicer and we will juice watermelon or whatever fruits available in our refrigerator. 

I do not stock up our refrigerator with candies, carbonated drinks and junk food because once these stuffs are in there, the boys will eventually consume them. Instead, I fill our refrigerator with fruits, yogurt, bite sized tomatoes and more natural yogurt. My boys love snacking on nuts so I always have naturally baked cashew, almond, pistachios and all kind of nuts at home. I am grateful my boys are not allergic to nuts. 

This post is getting extremely lengthy, I better stop here. 

The above are my thoughts on preventing childhood obesity in Malaysia from a mother’s point of view. The rest of the panelists are medical doctors as well as an early childhood educator. They discuss this topic on a deeper scale. 

You can watch it here in this video of our discussion on Childhood Obesity in Malaysia:

About the Author: Merryn Tan

7 Comments + Add Comment

  • //

    Wahhhhh!!!! I’m so proud I have a celebrity friend.

    • //

      ahahaha I have a “celebrity” friend too, but does Angelina Jolie return my calls or invite me to dinner? No :) paiseh…

  • //

    Wah! You are so famous that you get invited! Well done!

  • //

    I don’t care much about the perception on ideal body shape etc. As long as we are healthy, nothing matters.

  • //

    Wah… my celebrity blogger is here !

  • //

    You have written very well and spoke out all the great importance of good parenting. I fully agree with all your ideas and all the outdoor activities which is a must, and the necessary exposure a child needs besides getting them to cook. Hope you will be invited to more talk shows often to share your ideas and experiences. Well done.

    I am very thankful to my late mother today for what I am. Both you & my mum have similar ideas.

    I may not have kids but many friends around me seem to have failed themselves in many ways of child upbringing. They felt the sting terribly and with regrets now, but it is too late already….

  • //

    Very proud of you to be invited to the national TV show..to my opinion, it also takes both parents to inculcate healthy eating for our kids, if one parent eating habits are different from the other then arguments will occur.

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MeHome is where MY heart is.
I am a mother to two boys; Ethan and Ayden and a wife to Darling William. I'm a stay at home mum who blogs to break the monotony of life and to avoid feeling jaded. Would love to get to know all the Super Mommies and Daddies and Babies or Singles out there with the hope that we can learn more from each other. Most of all, I am a happy person, and I hope YOU are too.

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