Effective population-level solutions to the obesity pandemic have proved elusive. In low- and middle-income countries the problem may be further challenged by the perceived internal tension between economic development and sustainable solutions which create the optimal conditions for human health and well-being. This paper discusses some of the ecological obstacles to addressing the growing problem of obesity in aspiring economies, using Malaysia as a case study. The authors conclude that current measures to stimulate economic growth in Malaysia may actually be exacerbating the problem of obesity in that country. Public health solutions which address the wider context in which obesity exists are needed to change the course of this burgeoning problem.