That's according to Rhenu Bhuller, partner and senior VP of transformational health at Frost & Sullivan, following years of rising rates of diabetes and heart disease in Malaysia.
"Non-communicable diseases have been around for a long time; the story is not new. We've been talking about lifestyle diseases for a long time," she said on the wings of an event to outline Frost's healthcare trends and predictions for 2018.
"Rates are continuing to grow, so what we have to do is all about changing behaviour — it's about taking ownership and finding new ways to change behaviour, be it diet or exercise."
This year will see more methods employed to alter people's attitudes towards health and lifestyle, such as private health insurers increasingly offering incentives to their customers to stay active.
These are backed up by new technology and apps to monitor and encourage healthy lifestyles — again, under the motivation of the individual.
Health policy under development
Malaysia's PM Najib Razak has been alluding to this sense of personal health ownership as he touts the government's National Transformation 50 plan (TN50), which is being formed to shape a long-term road map for the country's policies.
"One of the key tenets of TN50 is health and wellness, and I believe that's the first step. Singapore has given fitness trackers to every consumer and told them to take 10,000 steps a day," said Bhuller.
"Malaysia hasn't done that yet, but the fact that it's acknowledging that people should take ownership of their own health — that it's not the ministry's responsibility, that it's not hospitals' responsibility, that it's our responsibility — is a good starting point, and we should take it from there."
Limiting mamaks is 'un-Malaysian'
But a proposal to shorten the opening hours of mamaks — traditional 24-hour eateries — to make it less convenient for Malaysians to eat at all hours of the day and night, falls short of the spirit of personal responsibility, she believes.
The measure was suggested by health minister S Subramaniam last December as one of several proposals for a new health policy, alongside taxing sweetened beverages, exempting sports equipment from import duties, and banning advertisements on food and drink with high fat, salt and sugar content.
"Mamaks should be able to open for as long as they want — though consumers need to decide if they want to go there. It doesn't sound very Malaysian," Bhuller said.
"It's all about making the right choices, making healthy choices, and educating from that perspective."