By Chiang Ai-Lien
THE treats just roll off the tongue: nasi lemak with its glistening coconut-saturated rice, mutton rendang, that tender meat blanketed in rich, spicy gravy; delightfully rich, sinfully sweet melt-in-the-mouth kueh.
All part of Singapore's celebrated food heritage - but for the Malays, overindulging in these dishes so central to their cultural identity could become a meal ticket to an early grave.
To put it bluntly, Malays are too fat, getting fatter too fast and succumbing to chronic diseases in the process.
Dr Sum Chee Fang, director of Alexandra Hospital's diabetes centre, sums it up: "First they get big, then they get diabetes, complications from diabetes such as eye damage and kidney disease, then it leads to heart trouble and stroke."
Almost seven in 10 Malays here are considered at risk of health problems such as diabetes or heart disease because of their weight.
Over one in two Malays is too heavy, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. One in five has a BMI of 30 and above, and is obese. BMI is an international classification of weight status in adults, based on a person's weight and height.
Asians, who have relatively higher body fat than Caucasians, have an increased risk of health problems at lower BMI. Those with a BMI of 23 and above are considered at risk - that includes 66.2 per cent of the Malay community.