The COVID-19 pandemic over the past 2 years has changed the everyday lives of people around the world, including Malaysia, causing unprecedented challenge to livelihood, public health, food systems and the work environment. Amidst these difficulties, it is even more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as the pandemic has, at the same time, revealed the importance of strong immune system to fight against the virus. Optimal nutrition is the key to attain and maintain good nutritional status and immune system.
However, the pandemic has imposed a new set of challenges for the population to maintain optimal nutrition, particularly the most vulnerable groups, including young children, pregnant and lactating women, elderly and disadvantaged families. The threat of food insecurity among the vulnerable groups would inevitably make them more susceptible to malnutrition. Besides, dietary patterns could have also worsened, driven by stress, fear and anxiety experienced during the pandemic. At the same time, the country is still struggling with the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), in which unhealthy diets and the resulting malnutrition are major drivers, affecting wide segments of the population.