Special Report: Health Ministry takes on obesity trend

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The Ministry of Public Health has revealed that over 20,000 Thais die on a yearly basis due to being overweight or obese. 

Deputy Public Health Minister Dr Cholanan Srikaew said that over the past five years, the number of overweight preschool children has been rising by 36 percent. The number of obese adults and young children has also increased by 4 million every year. The growing health crisis is being blamed on a change of diet which now includes fat-laden, sugary, and unhealthy food products and lack of exercise.

Being overweight leaves people at high risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.

According to last year’s study developed by the International Health Policy Programme in Thailand, among the female population, obesity was the leading cause of death, followed by high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Recently, the ministry revealed results from a survey conducted on 400 middle school students in Bangkok. 18 percent of the students have Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 which is classified as overweight. Most of those surveyed consumed soda drinks and fried food on a daily basis.

The Ministry of Public Health is bringing together organizations from the private and public sectors to curb childhood obesity. A 3-D animated guideline on how to stay healthy and a website offering parents tools and information to improve their children’s nutrition are being created to tackle the worrying trend. Information can be obtained from www.healthykid.moph.go.th.

The ministry stated that in order to keep a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating needs to be promoted and the amount of daily physical activity needs to be increased.