Unhealthy diets which typically results from over-eating or high intake of fat and salt lead to health problems. According to World Health Organization, adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables and fats reduces the risk for cardiovascular diseases, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes and heart diseases while recommended salt intake has a major impact on blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, it is convincing evidence that the consumption of high levels of high-energy foods such as processed foods or fast foods that are high in fats and sugars, promotes obesity and others health problems compared to low-energy foods such as fruits and vegetables (GHO, 2012).
According to Yannis Manios, Georgia Kourlaba, Evangelia Grammatikaki, Odysseas Androutsos, George Moschonis and Eleytheria Roma-Giannikou, it is no secret that diet plays a major role in health and diseases where unhealthy diet put us to health risks such as obesity, cancer, hypertension and diabetes (Joshua McCarron, 2011) and supported by Khalil, A.; Glal, S. as well. Silva, B.M.; Lopes, I.M.; Rodrigues, J.J.P.C.; Ray, P. also claimed that the main treatment for health problems including obesity and cancer is diet. Moreover, research shows that modern killer diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are definitely related to your diet (Indiadiets.com, 1999). Furthermore, Rosemary Hignett, FSA's head of nutrition, warned that, "Poor diets can lead to chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer, and contribute to obesity, which is on the rise" (Charlotte Eyre, 2007). In addition, Malaysian Council for Obesity Prevention (MCOM) president Jong Koi Chong saying the unhealthy diet trend was becoming a major problem. According to statistics, 14.9% and 43% of Malaysians aged above 30 suffer from diabetes and hypertension respectively, with 20.7% of adults over 18 suffering from high cholesterol (Florence A.Samy, 2010).
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Based on that, we see that how dangerous is an unhealthy diet can be. However, Dr Amir Farid Ishak blames our unhealthy diet for this predicament and suggests that we must start educating ourselves on the benefits of proper/healthy diet and how are they vital to living a healthy life (Anon, 2009). The results from Yannis Manios, Georgia Kourlaba, Evangelia Grammatikaki, Odysseas Androutsos, George Moschonis and Eleytheria Roma-Giannikou supports that healthier diet-lifestyle were less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those following unhealthy diet-lifestyle which directly reduce the health problems. Furthermore, Janet Cade, Hendrike Upmeier, Claire Calvert and Darren Greenwood claimed that there is increasing evidence that eating a healthy, balanced diet can reduce mortality as well as the risks of health problems and the importance of a healthy diet was stressed in the government's Health of the Nation White Paper. Based on that, we can see how importance a healthy diet is and the researcher needs to know how to promote and provide unhealthy diet-lifestyle in effective and efficient way with mobile application. Thus, the information of unhealthy diet risk and benefits of healthy diet will be included in the development of mobile application to create awareness and why it is important to us.
2. Overweight and Obesity
The rapid increase in the global prevalence of overweight and obesity has been characterized as an epidemic by the WHO (Arne Astrup, 1999) (Swinburn BA, Caterson I, Seidell JC and James WPT, 2004). According to World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may damage health which has more than 1.5 billion adults who are 20 years and above were overweight in 2008. Of these over 200 million of men and nearly 300 million of women have the problem of obesity. In 2010, there are approximately of 43 million children just under the age of 5 were overweight. In overall, there are more than 1 in 10 of the world's adult population was obese (WHO, 2011).
Yannis Manios, Georgia Kourlaba, Evangelia Grammatikaki, Odysseas Androutsos, George Moschonis and Eleytheria Roma-Giannikou stated that overweight and obesity rates on children are increasing worldwide and increased risk of health problems during their youth and throughout their adulthood.
Refer to appendix 9.1.1, we can see that more regions around the world are highlighted with darker colour in 2010 which indicates the rapid growth of obesity for males around the world compared to 2002 and 2005.
While in appendix 9.1.2, there are more regions around the world are highlighted darker in colour in 2010 which shows the rapid growth of obesity for females compared to year 2002 and 2005.
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In Malaysia, the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006 showed that 2 out of every 5 adults or 43% were overweight or obese. This is very staggering because the number of obese adults had more than tripled over a decade, from 4% in 1996 to 14% in 2006. Besides that, 38% of teenagers aged between 12 and 18 were classified as overweight (Florence A.Samy, 2010).
Based on facts, overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths but is preventable. Therefore, we need to know what cause the problem of overweight and obesity. The researcher found that the fundamental of this problem is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended especially when an increase intake of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients such as fast food that is available everywhere nowadays (WHO, 2011). Our health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that available data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity indicates that the problem we face may be more serious than those in other countries of the region (Florence A.Samy, 2010).
Dr. Dean Ornish, a clinical professor and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, explains that overweight and obesity is not only preventable but also reversible, often by changing our diet (Anup Shah, 2010). From these statements, it shows that obesity is preventable. Therefore, we must act before it happens. Thomas R. Frieden, William Dietz and Janet Collins illustrate that improving nutrition/diet is the key to obesity prevention and control (HealthAffairs, 2010) and Feng Gao and Mc Schraefel also stated that in conference paper. Thus, the benefit of healthier diet is obvious and this mobile application will surely encourage people to take organic/healthy food in resulted of healthier diet and lifestyle which directly reduce overweight and obesity.
3. Fast food restaurants
One of the major factors which lead to unhealthy diet or poor eating habits is rapid growth of fast food restaurant around us in few decades. Helmut Schröder, Montserrat FÃ¯to and Maria Isabel Covas stated that foods available in fast food outlets are becoming an increasingly important part of the diet. The numbers of fast food outlets and sales increased dramatically during the past 30 years which often displaces healthier food options (Helmut Schröder, Montserrat FÃ¯to and Maria Isabel Covas, 2007). Thus, it is not surprised that fast food has become trendy and a part of our eating habits but puts us on many health risks. For example, it's believe that the growth in fast food outlets is the major cause of obesity and put us on risk of type 2 diabetes (Anon, 2009). Fast food restaurants spend huge sums on mass media advertising, mainly through television advertisements which directly influence consumes on food choices (Swinburn BA, Caterson I, Seidell JC and James WPT, 2004). Swinburn BA, Caterson I, Seidell JC and James WPT also illustrate that heavy advertising of fast foods and energy dense foods and drinks increases the consumption of those products. The evidence supports that the huge advertising investment on fast foods has influence food choice behaviors. In addition, many researches contend that environmental changes where the availability of cheap, convenient, energy-dense food in larger portions increased during last few decades drive the obesity epidemic and influence our food choice on healthy food which normally less convenient due to less outlets and more expensive (Joanna E Holsten, 2009).
Based on that, the researcher will provide a platform for organic/healthy food restaurant to subscribe in order to allow mobile application users to choose and take healthy diet. Many of us seldom go for organic/healthy food restaurant because fewer outlets available and normally we do not even know where we can find it. Thus, this mobile application will surely build the reputation for organic/healthy food restaurants.
4. Ineffective and inefficient of existing health-related mobile application
Feng Gao and Mc Schraefel indicates that one method to prevent obesity is diet and its success is highly dependent on support tools such as diet-related software applications and services, a popular segment of health-related applications in the mobile market. Feng Gao and Mc Schraefel continued that there are a lot health-related mobile application in the market which mainly provides us the nutrition value of food/food information and tracking our food intake. Bosch, M.; Schap, T.; Fengqing Zhu; Khanna, N.; Boushey, C.J.; Delp, E.J. illustrate that there are only minimal successful health-related tools to reduce the 10 leading causes of death in the US where 6 are related to diet which includes obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. However, less evidence shows that it is effective.
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It is ineffective because it never provide a convenient platform for us in order to encourage us to take actions. Moreover, there are mobile applications emphasizing on exercise but researches shows that it is ineffective as well. Based on National Weight Control Registry, 10% of people lost weight or get in shape through healthy/proper diet alone and only 1% using exercise alone to get this while 89% of people lost weight or get in shape by practice both regularly (Anon, 2009). In addition, Yuzhong Lin; Jessurun, J.; de Vries, B.; Timmermans, H. stated that mobile devices may act as powerful persuaders as it can intervene in the right context and a convenient way in order to prompt users into behavior change. Based on the evidence above, mobile application can plays a major role to create awareness towards healthy diet and it is more effective for us to change the way we eat instead of just exercise regularly but still eat unhealthy food which is high in fat and salt since the root of health problem is our diet/eating habits.