• Mary Jane Botabara-Yap Public Health Department, Adventist University of the Philippines, Putingkahoy, Silang Cavite 4118, Philippines
  • Miriam R. Estrada College of Health,Adventist University of the Philippines, Putingkahoy, Silang Cavite 4118,Philippines
  • Edwin Balila College of Science and Technology, Adventist University of the Philippines, Putingkahoy, Silang Cavite 4118,Philippines



Overweight, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, smoking, physical activity


The epidemic of overweight is encroaching in the world today, irrespective of economic and social status and regions. It is now seen as a public health threat and one that must be taken seriously in all aspects of public health interventions. There is a need to deeper understand the relationship of lifestyle behaviors and the epidemic of overweight and obesity. This cross-sectional study investigates the lifestyle predictors (smoking, physical activity, diet, and sleeping) of overweight as measured by body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). A questionnaire survey was conducted among 459 samples (18 years old and above) from those who attended a health screening drive, conducted in three major regions in Peninsular Malaysia. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics as well as regression model, with p<0.05 considered significant. The overall Body Mass Index (BMI) of the population was overweight at 24.69 while the Waist-to-Hip ratio (WHR) for female was 0.86, classified as high and for male, 0.94 which was borderline. Predictor model revealed that smoking (P<0.05, R2 - 0.38) and physical activity (P=0.02, R2 - 0.11) were predictors for body mass index while smoking P<0.05, R2 - 0.50) was a predictor of Waist-to-hip ratio. Findings showed that the problem of overweight in Malaysia is real and smoking and physical activity play a strong role and need to be considered in any public health interventions.


Helble M, Francisco K. The Imminent Obesity Crisis in Asia and the Pacific: First Cost Estimates. ADBI Working Paper Series; 743; Asian Development Bank Institute; 2017;

World Health Organization. Factsheet; Geneva, Switzerland. 2017;

Bhurosy T, Jeewon R. Overweight and Obesity Epidemic in Developing Countries: A Problem with Diet, Physical Activity, or Socioeconomic Status? Scientific World Journal 2014; 2014:964236.

Khambalia AZ, Seen LS. Trends in overweight and obese adults in Malaysia (1996-2009): a systematic review; Obes Rev 2010;11(6):403-12.

Chan YY, Lim KK, Lim KH, et. al. Physical activity and overweight/obesity among Malaysian adults: findings from the 2015 National Health and morbidity survey (NHMS); BMC Public Health 2017; 17(1):733.

Schoepp T. Obesity in Malaysia: Unhealthy Eating is as Harmful as Smoking. Penang Institute, Malaysia. 2017 Dec;

Hruby A, Hu F. The Epidemiology of Obesity: A Big Picture. Pharmacoeconomics 2015; 33(7): 673–689.

Botabara-Yap M, Razon-Estrada M, Balila E. The influence of culture and access to healthcare delivery as predictors of health behaviours among Malaysians of different cultural backgrounds. International Forum Journal 2017; 20(2): 57-74.

Ashwell M, Gibson S. Waist-to-height ratio as an indicator of ‘early health risk’: simpler and more predictive than using a ‘matrix’ based on BMI and waist circumference. BMJ Open 2016; 6:e010159.

American Heart Association. Higher waist and hip measures may add up to greater risk for heart attack among women. ScienceDaily.2018 Feb.

Fauziana R, Jeyagurunathan A, Abdin E, et. al. Body mass index, waist-hip ratio and risk of chronic medical condition in the elderly population: results from the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) Study. BMC Geriatr 2016; 16:125.

Harvard School of Public Health. Measuring obesity: from calipers to CAT scans, ten ways to tell whether a body is fat or lean. USA. 2018;

Institute for Public Health; National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 (NHMS 2015). Vol. II: Non-Communicable Diseases, Risk Factors & Other Health Problems. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Health Malaysia 2015;

World Health Organization. BMI classification. Geneva, Switzerland. 2019;

Harvard School of Public Health. Measuring body fat; United States. 2019;

Centre for Chronic Disease & Prevention. Body mass index: considerations for Practitioners. United States. 2011; 60(40);1377-1381;

Norafidah AR, Azmawati MN, Norfazilah A. Factors influencing abdominal obesity by waist circumference among normal BMI population. Malaysian Journal of Public Health Medicine 2013; 13(1): 37-47.

Dare S, McKay D, Pell J. Relationship between smoking and obesity: a cross-sectional study of 499,504 middle-aged adults in the UK general population. PLoS One 2015; 10(4):e0123579.

Gasperin LOF, Neuberger M, Tichy A, Moshammer H. Cross-sectional association between cigarette smoking and abdominal obesity among Austrian bank employees. BMJ Open 2014; 4(7):e004899.

Piirtola M, Jelenkovic A, Latvala A, et al. Association of current and former smoking with body mass index: A study of smoking discordant twin pairs from 21 twin cohorts. PLoS One 2018; 13(7):e0200140.

McKay D, Gray L, Pell J. Impact of smoking and smoking cessation on overweight and obesity: Scotland-wide, cross-sectional study on 40,036 participants. BMC Public Health 2013; 13(348).

Mathew A, Kurian R, Akshay KM, et. al. Association between smoking and body mass index among males aged 20 years and above: A study in rural Tamil Nadu, South India. South East Asia Journal of Public Health 2015; 4(1): 53-58.

Rezaei S, Hajizadeh M, Pasdar Y, et. al. Association of smoking with general and abdominal obesity: evidence from a cohort study in west of Iran; Journal of Research in Health Sciences 2018; 18(1): e00401.

The Star Malaysia. 80% of smokers live in poorer countries; Malaysia. 23 May 2017.

Tam CL, Bonn G, Yeoh SH, Yap CC, Wong CP. Physical activity and its correlates among adults in Malaysia: a cross-sectional descriptive study. PLOS One 2016; 11(6):e0157730.

Dickerson J, Smith M, Benden M, Ory M. The association of physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and body mass index classification in a cross-sectional analysis; BMC Public Health 2011; 11:926.

Tian Y, Jiang C, Wang M, et. al. BMI, leisure-time physical activity and physical fitness in adults in China: results from a series of national surveys; Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2016; 4(6), 487-497.

Biswas A, Oh P, Faulkner G, et. al. Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis; Ann Intern Med 2015;162(2):123-132.

Moholdt T, Lavie C, Nauman J. Interaction of physical activity and body mass index on mortality in coronary heart disease: data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study. Am J Med 2017;130(8);949–957.

Lu S, Ruopeng A, Van Meijgaard J. Cigarette smoking and abdominal obesity: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Journal of Substance Use 2013; 18(6); 440-449.

Tuovinen EL, Saarni SE, Maanisto S, et. al. Smoking status and abdominal obesity among normal and overweight/obese adults: Population-based FINRISK study. Prev Med Rep 2016;4:324–330.

Morris RW, Taylor AE, Fluharty ME, et. al. Heavier smoking may lead to a relative increase in waist circumference: evidence for a causal relationship from a Mendelian randomization meta-analysis. The CARTA consortium. BMJ Open 2015; 5:e008808.

Lim KH, Teh CH, Pan S, et. al. Prevalence and factor/s associated with smoking among adults in Malaysia – findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015. Tob Induc Dis 2018;16:1.




How to Cite

Mary Jane Botabara-Yap, Miriam R. Estrada, & Edwin Balila. (2019). LIFESTYLE PREDICTORS OF OVERWEIGHT AMONG MALAYSIANS. Malaysian Journal of Public Health Medicine, 19(1), 167–171.