Majority of the people in Thailand are Buddhist and Buddha is the symbol of their religion with its big smile and giant tummy. The kingdom is known for its local cuisine which is one of the most popular all over the world. Many foreign travellers come to Thailand just to taste the vegetarian cuisine in Chiang Mai, the local food in Phuket and most especially the street foods in Bangkok. Despite the healthy food choices, the health officials are worried about the health of the Buddhist monks as many are deemed to be obese.
This June, the Public Health Department of Thailand made a public announcement regarding the alms given by the people to the monks. The officials said that healthier options should be given as alms. This is a common Buddhist tradition in Thailand for monks to roam the streets in the early morning while wearing saffron robes as they collect alms for their daily meals.
According to the deputy director general of the health department, Amporn Bejapolpitak, it is recommended for monks to have additional physical activities in their daily routine such as cleaning around the temples.
Obesity is now one of the main issues that Thailand is facing as the country was ranked as the second heaviest country all over Asia while Malaysia is on the top of the list. According to results from the national health examination, one in every Thai man is considered obese while over 40 per cent of the total women population are categorized as overweight.
Monks are considered to be the number one group leading in the obesity problem. Data from Chulalongkorn University’s study showed that almost half of the monks are overweight. Specifics from the study revealed that over 40 per cent are suffering from high cholesterol, almost 25 per cent are inflicted with high blood pressure and diabetes is present in 1 in every 10 monks.
Perhaps it is time to look to vegetarian cuisine in Chiang Mai and other parts of Thailand instead of fattening and greasy food options. The health authorities are also urging everyone to become more active physically.