Thailand’s student monks get diet overhaul to combat obesity

Thailand’s student monks get diet overhaul to combat obesity

After a recent study concluded that more than a quarter of monastic students at Phra Pariyatti Dhamma general education schools across the country are overweight, a new nutrition and health program has emerged.

 

The office of the National Health Commission launched the project with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, the Department of Allied Health Sciences at Chulalongkorn University and six other organizations.

The goal is to curb childhood obesity in a group of 33,000 students. Pratip Tanakiccharoen, general secretary of NHCO, says making healthier choices is essential.

“We want them to understand nutrition and adopt a healthy lifestyle instead of choosing only the foods they prefer, such as sweets, snacks or fried foods.”

Statistically, newcomers are on average about 4% taller than boys in the general population. Because monks are not allowed to eat after noon, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation says they have noticed a trend for newcomers to stock up on high-calorie, high-sugar foods. Things like sweet milk, sweet green tea, and soft drinks are their preferred afternoon hydration foods.

The Student Education Project includes four teaching methods. Infographics, a set of 10 nutrition books and exercises, a food selection app, and an animated graphics platform will be available by December. A manager and professor at Chulalongkorn University says that as education levels rise, the number of overweight students should decrease. He also says the app will make it fun for students as they offer rewards for exercise and healthy eating when they write down their habits on the app.

News of monks being overweight has been on the rise in recent years as CNN ran a story in 2019 about the rise in obesity among Thailand's monks. The National Health Commission of Thailand said back in 2019 that almost half of the monks in Thailand at the time were overweight or obese. It was further said that the monks suffered from diabetes, eye problems, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis in the knees, but were ill-informed about healthy eating.

The commission has now ordered mobile medical units to monitor the health of the monks in the temples, making regular rounds.