Diet Quality of Malaysians across Lifespan: A Scoping Review of Evidence in a Multi-Ethnic Population

Nutrients. 2021 Apr 20;13(4):1380. doi: 10.3390/nu13041380.


Malaysia is a rapidly developing economy experiencing a nutrition transition. It suffers from a double burden of over- and undernutrition, making it essential to understand diet quality in the population. In this scoping review, we have collated the existing literature on Malaysian diet quality, including factors that influence it, and the association between diet quality and health outcomes across the lifespan of Malaysians. Overall, diet quality was poor in all age groups studied. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and its iterations were predominantly used in urban and clinical settings to evaluate diet-chronic disease relationships. These indices were significantly associated with cardio-metabolic and disease risks in adults. The Diet Diversity Score (DDS) and Food Variety Score (FVS) were used to gauge diet quality in maternal and child nutrition studies and were associated with appropriate growth and caloric intake. Deficiencies were found in fruit, vegetable, legumes, and dairy intake. Meat, salt, and sugar intake were found to be excessive in many studies. The findings can inform policies to improve diet quality in this population. The review also identified knowledge gaps that require further investigation.

Keywords: Malaysia; diet index; diet quality; diet variety; nutrition assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Diet / standards*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Malaysia
  • Treatment Outcome