Country team for INFORMAS in Malaysia is led by Professor Dr. Tilakavati Karupaiah at Taylor’s University. Two process modules of INFORMAS (public and private sector) is been implemented in Malaysia as part of the first national survey in Malaysia on food environment policy. The new plan is to venture into the ‘Food Price’ module as we already have a database on food consumption patterns.

The Malaysia team is supported by module leaders from INFORMAS, Prof. Boyd Swinburn, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bridget Kelly and Dr. Stefanie Vandevijvere, for an International Development Research Centre (IDRC) project titled, “Mapping the implementation of priority food environment policies to tackle diet-related non-communicable diseases in South-East Asia: Comparison between three countries”. This is a multi-country study involving Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, in collaboration with the INFORMAS. Ng See Hoe (William) is the PhD student/ Project Administrator for this project in Malaysia.


  1. The data collection for the public sector module started in August 2016 which was compiled into a report for the Food-EPI Expert Rating conducted on 11 April 2017 with expert participation from non-government organisations (NGO), professional societies and academia. Findings were disseminated at the ICN symposium in 2017 after obtaining country clearance and the Final Technical report launched on July 23 2018 by the Deputy Director-General of Health. The findings have also published in the Sept/October issue of Public Health Nutrition [Public Health Nutrition. 2018, 1-12. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018002379].
  2. Business Impact Assessment (BIA) – Obesity is close to completion. We completed the preliminary finding feedback to the companies and at the final stage of cross-checking the content of the full technical report prior to printing and design. A closed-door meeting with the industry is scheduled on 29th July 2019, where the overall findings will be presented to the companies through a morning briefing session. A public forum is planned after the closed-door meeting [pm same day] to disseminate the findings to the public. The audience includes government stakeholders, professional organisations, NGOs and others. We are pleased to have the support of the private module leader – A/Prof. Dr. Gary Sacks to support us in these events.

Professor Dr. Tilakavati KarupaiahProfessor Dr. Tilakavati Karupaiah

SRI Professor, Taylor’s University and

Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences,

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Phone: +60392897245, mobile (hp)+60192731400  /


Status (as of July 2019)


Public Sector (Food EPI)

  • Conducted Food-EPI Expert Rating (FEER) Workshop on 11 April 2017 and completed prioritisation by the Experts in June 2017.
  • Received country clearance to disseminate the results in September 2017. Subsequently, we advocated the findings in one international conference (ICN 2017 Buenos Aires) and 2 local meetings (MASO 2017 and UNU-IIGH 2017).  
  • Received confirmation to publish the Technical Report titled, ‘Food-Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI): Benchmarking Current Policies and Determining Priorities for Future Policies for the Malaysian Government 2016-2017’ in January 2018.
  • Launched the Technical Report on 23 July 2018 together with all engaged stakeholders with the Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health) officiating the event. The launch event received good attention from the local media (e.g. The Star – 3 pages, full colour on 19 August 2018; News Strait Times on 23 July 2018 – ¼ page and Berita Harian 20 August 2018 – 1 page).
  • Published the Food-EPI findings in Public Health Nutrition (refer to output 5) and the article was selected as the Nutrition Society Paper of the Month for October 2018 in the Cambridge Core Blog.
  • We continuously advocate the research findings to relevant government stakeholders through existing platforms, in order to enable a better buy-in of the proposed policy package suggested by the experts.
  • Contributed Malaysia Food-EPI data and provided inputs to the INFORMAS multi-countries’ comparison article (refer to output 6).

We presented part of the data from Food-EPI related to nutrition labelling at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference as the poster presentation (refer to output 8).

3-6, 8

Private Sector

  • Conducted the IDRC Midterm Training Workshop on 15 – 17 August 2017. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gary Sacks was invited to be the Lead Faculty for this Workshop to provide training on private sector assessment (Business Impact Assessment (BIA) – Obesity; Corporate Political Activities). Representatives from Vietnam (n=3) and Thailand (n=1) attended the training workshop in Malaysia. Through the workshop, we finalised 33 companies to be assessed under BIA-Obesity.
  • Begun to engage through the representative industry association, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) in mid-October 2017. Through a series of engagements, we reached out to individual FMM members by early January 2018.
  • Finalised the BIA-Obesity evidence reports on 16 July 2018 (last date to return feedback by the engaged companies).
  • Malaysia and Vietnam will be adopting a different BIA-Obesity rating approach (i.e. setting up an expert panel consisting of international and local experts). Prior to the rating process, Mr. Ng See Hoe (William), the PhD student in this project had a short attachment with Prof. Dr. Gary Sacks and Ella Robinson at Deakin University (Date: 24.6.2018 – 4.7.2018). Areas for assistance included to (1) provide hands-on training for rating, (2) finalise rating protocol and (3) revise the BIA-Obesity marking scheme to include the local context.
  • The BIA-Obesity Workshop (Initial) was conducted on 24-25 July 2018 to provide familiarisation training to 6 experts: 2 international academia, a local academia, an NGO representative and 2 government stakeholders. Hands-on training was conducted by the research team with Experts completing rating for 3 companies. The Expert Panel agreed to continue the assessment for the remaining companies (n=28) and the process took approximately 4 months to be completed using ‘simple majority approach’.
  • Reviewer panel comprising of the Expert Panel and senior government officials revised the recommendations in 2 events (i.e. Dec 2018 and 17 Jan 2019).
  • Technical report was drafted. This report was reviewed with Gary Sacks, Boyd Swinburn and Ella Robinson at Deakin University on 17 April 2019.

Preliminary findings were returned to respective companies and a final deadline (28 May 2019) was set for company feedback. In the absence of any response, it was assumed the company was “acquiescent by silence” to the preliminary findings. With this, the research team will be hosting 2 events on 29 July 2019, including (1) a closed-door briefing session with the industry and (2) a public forum to disseminate the overall findings of BIA-Obesity Malaysia.

Food Composition Not planning to be conducted at the moment nil
Food Labelling Not planning to be conducted at the moment nil
Food Promotion
  • Television: data collection completed
  • Social media/Facebook/ Sports sponsorship/ Magazines/ Internet/ Outdoor advertising: Not planning to be conducted at the moment
  • Contributed a dataset for TV food advertising classified using WHO Europe Nutrient Profiling Scheme for a multi-country comparison. The article was published
Food Prices
  • Planning to work on this as we have a database. Need to link with Module Leader.
Food Retail Not planning to be conducted at the moment nil
Food Provision Not planning to be conducted at the moment nil
Food Trade & Investment Not planning to be conducted at the moment nil
  1. Ng SH, Kelly B, Se CH, Sahathevan S, Chinna K, Ismail MN, Karupaiah, T. Reading the mind of children in response to food advertising: A cross-sectional study of Malaysian schoolchildren’s attitudes towards food and beverages advertising on television.BMC Public Health. 2015; 15: 1047. doi: 1186/s12889-015-2392-z
  2. Ng SH, Kelly B, Se CH, Chinna K, Jamil SM, Shanthi K, Noor IM, Karupaiah T. Obesogenic television food advertising to children in Malaysia: Sociocultural variations.Journal of Global Health Action. 2014, 7: 25169, doi: 3402/gha.v7.25169
  3. Ng SH, Swinburn B, Kelly B, Vandevijvere S, Yeatman H, Ismail MN, Karupaiah T. Mapping the Extent of Implementation of Food Environment Policies from The Perspective of a Low-Middle Income Country-Malaysia. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2017, 71: 212-212. [Conference presentation].
  4. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia 2018, Food-Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI): Benchmarking Current Policies and Determining Priorities for Future Policies for the Malaysian Government 2016-2017, UKM Cetak: Bangi, Selangor. [Technical Report].
  5. Ng SH, Swinburn B, Kelly B, Vandevijvere S, Yeatman H, Ismail MN, Karupaiah T. Extent of implementation of food environment policies by the Malaysian Government: Gaps and priority recommendations. Public Health Nutrition. 2018, 1-12. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018002379.
  6. Vandevijvere S, Barquera S, Caceres G, Corvalan C, Karupaiah T, Kroker‐Lobos MF, L’Abbé M, Ng SH, Phulkerd S, Ramirez‐Zea M, Rebello SA, Reyes M, Sacks G, María Sánchez Nóchez C, Sanchez K, Sanders D, Spires M, Swart R, Tangcharoensathien V, Tay Z, Taylor A, Tolentino‐Mayo L, Van Dam R, Vanderlee L, Watson F, Whitton C, Swinburn B. An 11‐country study to benchmark the implementation of recommended nutrition policies by national governments using the Healthy Food Environment Policy Index, 2015‐ Obesity Reviews 2019: 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/obr.12819.
  7. Kelly B, Vandevijvere S, Ng SH, Adams J, Allemandi L, Bahena‐Espina L, Barquera S, Boyland E, Calleja P, Carmona‐Garcés IC, Castronuovo L, Cauchi D, Correa T, Corvalán C, Cosenza‐Quintana EL, Fernández‐Escobar C, González‐Zapata LI, Halford J, Jaichuen N, Jensen ML, Karupaiah T, Kaur A, Kroker‐Lobos MF, Mchiza Z, Miklavec K, Parker W, Kent MP, Pravst I, Ramírez‐Zea M, Reiff S, Reyes M, Royo‐Bordonada MA, Rueangsom P, Scarborough P, Tiscornia MV, Tolentino‐Mayo L, Wate J, White M, Zamora‐Corrales I, Zeng L, Swinburn B. Global benchmarking of children’s exposure to television advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages across 22 countries. Obesity Reviews 2019: 1-13. DOI: 10.1111/obr.12840.
  8. Ng SH, Kelly B, Yeatman H, Swinburn B, Vandevijvere S, Noor MI, Karupaiah T. Mapping nutrition labelling policies in Malaysia. PMAC Conference 29 Jan – 3 Feb 2019. [Poster presentation – Poster Slot E06,].
  9. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia 2019, Benchmarking Food Industry Commitments for to Create a Healthier Food Environment: Business Impact Assessment (BIA) – Obesity Malaysia 2019, UKM Cetak: Bangi, Selangor. [Technical Report – in press].
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada
  • Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (PhD scholarship at University of Wollongong for candidate Ng See Hoe (William) starting from July 2016)
  • School of Healthcare Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia (in-kind contribution – infrastructure and facilities support)
  • Early Start Research Institute, School of Health & Society, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, Australia (in-kind contribution – infrastructure and facilities support for PhD student)
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