Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Is the Diet of a Middle Income Country Sustainable ? An Exploratory Study from Malaysia

Version 1 : Received: 30 July 2020 / Approved: 2 August 2020 / Online: 2 August 2020 (09:29:46 CEST)

How to cite: Moy, F.M.; Eng, J.Y.; Zulkefli, N.F.; Ng, L.L.; Ismail, M.A. Is the Diet of a Middle Income Country Sustainable ? An Exploratory Study from Malaysia. Preprints 2020, 2020080006 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0006.v1). Moy, F.M.; Eng, J.Y.; Zulkefli, N.F.; Ng, L.L.; Ismail, M.A. Is the Diet of a Middle Income Country Sustainable ? An Exploratory Study from Malaysia. Preprints 2020, 2020080006 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0006.v1).

Abstract

A sustainable diet which is healthy and environmental friendly is a climate change mitigation option in addition to being a health promoting diet. However, there is a scarcity of information if the Asian diets are sustainable. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate if the diet of the Malaysian population is healthy and sustainable. This is a cross sectional study using dietary data generated from food frequency questionnaires (FFQ). The carbon footprint data were linked with the food items/ food groups in the FFQ. The nutrients of the participants’ diet were computed and the proportions of those who met the recommended nutrients intake were established. Contribution of carbon footprint for different food groups and total carbon footprint for each participant’s diet were computed and expressed as kgCO2eq. Comparison of carbon footprint from participants’ diets between age, sex and ethnicity were carried out. A total of 4825 participants were included in the analysis. Majority were Malays (66.4 %), females (84.0%), married (80.0%) and in the age groups of 30s to 40s (68.8%). The mean total energy intake was 2485+1000 kcal/day. Only 40 to 60% of all participants achieved the Malaysia Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) for calcium and less than half of the female participants who were aged 50 years and below fulfilled the RNI for iron. The most commonly consumed food groups were vegetables (270g/day), wheat, rice, fruits, sugar, seafood, poultry, legumes, snacks, milk and beef (46g/day). Total carbon footprint from the participants’ diets were 2.96 kgCO2eq/day, with the highest contributions of carbon footprint from rice, vegetables, beef, sugar, other cereals, poultry, seafood, wheat, milk, fruits, legume and snacks. Subgroups such as males, Malays and younger participants were more likely to consume diets with higher carbon footprint, compared to their counterparts. The participants’ diet was low in carbon footprint and environmentally friendly, however the quality of diet may need to be improved. Education measures should be targeted for all population and specifically for the sub-groups that consumed diets with higher carbon footprint.

Subject Areas

sustainable diet; carbon footprint; recommended nutrient intake; Malaysia

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