Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon cited diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, vascular disease and cancer as five significant chronic diseases, resulting from a lack of exercise, obesity, insufficient fiber intake, smoking and alcohol addiction.
Medical treatment for these diseases costs the country Bt300 billion a year.
The latest survey found obesity among over 17 Thai million people, aged above 15, said Dr Surawit, explaining that these people are highly prone to chronic diseases and Thai people’s life expectancy will be shorter if no action is taken.
Realising that physical workouts are the best medicine, the Public Health Ministry has aimed at encouraging Thais above 11 years old to exercise and increasing the number by 30 per cent, or to 18 million people in 2013.
Last year’s survey on exercise behaviour of Thai people older than 11 years found that among the 57.7 million people in the adult age group, only 15 million people or 26 per cent exercised—a disappointing decrease by nearly 30 per cent from 2007.
The figure signifies potential obesity and chronic diseases due to lack of exercise among 42 million Thai adults, he said.
The alarming decline apparently triggered the Public Health Ministry to organise a national hula hoop competition at the gymnasium of Thammasat University on Thursday.
More than 3,000 hula hoop dancers from 76 provinces joined the event.