Malaysian linguist Junaini Kasdan and her research team took to Twitter to conduct a study regarding the dietary patterns and potential health risks of Twitter users during Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“We focused specifically on food consumption during Raya by singling out non-food related Raya discussion topics, eventually collecting the information from over 100 users who frequently tweeted about what they ate and how many open houses they went to,” Junaini said during the National Malay Gastronomy Seminar held by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation.
The researchers found that traditional foods like rendang and ketupat are still widely served during the festival, but there is an increasing trend in serving Western and other Asian foods.
“Popular non-Malay foods eaten during Raya include Arabic roasted mutton, Korean kimbab, Thai miang kham, Chinese dim sum, Italian lasagne and spaghetti, among others,” she said as quoted in a report by the Malay Mail.
Desserts like agar-agar merah and air selasih were no longer being served regularly but were rather replaced by fruit punch and cream puffs.
Junaini lamented that Malaysian cultural identity is “steadily eroding” considering how teenagers and younger Malaysians prefer tarts over the traditional kuih lapis.
The research data from Twitter also showed that more food was being consumed during the festivities than what is recommended to be healthy.
“It is common to see words like ‘15 sticks of satay’, ‘three plates full’, ‘going for second to fourth open house’, and even humorous terms like ‘food overdose’, and ‘kumpul lemak lagi’ (gathering fat again) by Twitter users when discussing what they ate for Raya.”
These youths may face potential health risks such as damage to blood flow, slower metabolism, slowed organ functions, and others.
The researchers encouraged parents and elders to teach the youths to exercise self-control when eating and to learn about traditional Malaysian recipes to “stem the tide of cultural loss.”/TISG