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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.

It is known that people living with NCDs are more at risk of severe consequences from COVID-19.

Scaling up efforts to prevent all form of malnutrition, as well as making available data in a timely manner to help identify emerging nutritional issues and subsequent intervention especially in addressing the nutritional needs of the populations in the midst of COVID-19 is vital. There is an urgency to share evidences, emerging data and practical insights from nutrition experiences, adaptations, programmes & researches. These can be utilised to support stakeholders in implementing effective initiatives, programme and policies to support better nutrition outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued fight against NCDs. The theme of the 37th NSM Annual Scientific Conference underscores the importance of nutrition as an integral part of the nation’s fight against health threats, particularly COVID-19 response and recovery strategies. This conference aims to serve as a platform for all stakeholders to productively exchange and discuss the nutrition-COVID-19 interplay i.e. the effects of the pandemic on nutritional consequences, and nutritional perspectives for the mitigation of COVID-19.

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