Public understanding and evaluation of information related to obesity health risks in Sweden and Malaysia


  • Prof. Dr. Azirah Hashim University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Aliyyah Nuha Faiqah Azman Firdaus University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Nataliya Berbyuk Lindström University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Elisabeth Ahlsén University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Pavel Rodin University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Yee Chee Leong University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Ali Attaran MAPNA Group, Iran
  • Maya Khemlani David University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Jens Allwood University of Gothenburg, Sweden


obesity, Sweden, Malaysia, information sources, trust, culture


This study examines and compares the awareness of weight-related issues of Swedes and
Malay Malaysians, as well as attitudes to health risks related to being obese and preferences
for and evaluation of different information channels. A questionnaire was distributed to
respondents from these two socio-culturally distinct countries and the responses were analyzed
using descriptive statistics. The findings of the study show both similarities and differences
between Swedes and Malay Malaysians. Respondents in both countries show an awareness of
where to turn to for information and the health problems linked to obesity. Both similarities
and differences are found in preferences for information sources and usefulness of information.
In the Swedish data, social media, family and friends and expert talks were considered both
easy to understand and trustworthy and the information obtained from these sources is
evaluated as very useful while blogs were seen as easy to understand but not trustworthy. In
the Malaysia data, blogs, Youtube/Vimeo and social media are considered the easiest to
understand but less likely to be trustworthy. In both countries, public health care institutions
and governmental agencies are rated as trustworthy, but low in understandability. In Malaysia,
expert talks to the public and private institutions are also seen as trustworthy. Daily
newspapers, leaflets, radio/TV, and alternative medicine is seen as neither easy to understand
nor trustworthy by the respondents in both countries. The outcomes of this study provide
insights into the obesity attitudes of Swedes and Malaysians and their preferences for
information sources. The results can contribute towards better understanding of cultural
influences in the planning of health services in both countries.


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How to Cite

Hashim, A., Azman Firdaus, A. N. F., Lindström, N. B., Ahlsén, E., Rodin, P., Yee, C. L., Attaran, A., David, M. K., & Allwood, J. (2021). Public understanding and evaluation of information related to obesity health risks in Sweden and Malaysia. AEI INSIGHTS, 4(1), 65–80. Retrieved from