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Thai Monks Face Obesity Epidemic
(LinkAsia: October 12, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
Buddhists in Thailand are asked to be generous and share food with Monks. But it seems they're too generous. It's now estimated that almost of half of Thai monks are obese. Here's NHK with more on the Monks' efforts to slim down.


Airdate: October 10, 2012

Thailand's monks are seeking solution. The problem comes from their diet. They urgently need to lose weight. Pairat is a 41 year old monk at a Buddhist temple in the suburbs of Bangkok. His morning routine involves making rounds of the neighborhood to ask for alms. He receives offers of food at nearly every stop. The alms used to be mainly simple homemade dishes, but that's changing as Thailand becomes richer. Higher calorie items such as sweets or meat prepared outside the home are an offer. By tradition monks are supposed to eat everything they receive. But there's just too much. Over 13 years Pairat gained 50 kilograms. He suffers from hypertension and diabetes.

People would be disappointed if I didn't eat. What else can I do but eat as much as I can.

On weekends even more dishes arrive. Followers deliver an assortment of meat, fried food and other delicacies to the temple. They believe the food will reach their ancestors and other deceased relatives when eaten by monks. A recent survey showed nearly half of the country's monks are overweight. A hospital for monks in Bangkok launched a program in May to fight obesity. It's designed overweight monks shed weight. Pairat signed up for the course. Thai monks are prohibited from exercising by their religious tenets. Even jogging or aerobics is forbidden, so they're encouraged to stretch to lose weight.

Supaporn Wangroongsarb:
Monks have a duty to start to diet. Many of them suffer from diabetes. So they can't carry out their religious duties properly.

Pairat tries to avoid meat and fried foods, choosing vegetables and rice. After every meal he goes into a private room and stretches out collecting alms he wears a pedometer. His goal is to walk 3 kilometers instead of 1 kilometer he used to cover.

I want to continue religious activity as long as possible.

Monks face a growing challenge to stay trim while accepting generosity with a full heart. Nathaka Karnchanasest, NHK World, Bangkok.
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