It used to be the case where it was once rare to see obesity in Thailand and average sized westerners visiting the Land of Smiles would feel huge compared to slim Thais. However, this is not the case any longer as will be noticed by anyone in or visiting Thailand 20 years ago or before, compared to now. So what has caused the increase in obesity levels? In Thailand and around the globe . . .
Invasion of the Fast Food Outlets
Fast food outlets, such as KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and the like, although they have delicious food which is generally okay to eat in moderation, also promote the new high calorie global diet. A global diet where addictive concoctions of sugar and fat, aimed at people who don’t have time or the inclination to prepare their own meals are causing people to become fatter.
The Deadly Duo
Tests involving lab rats have proven that sugar is not that addictive on its own, and that fat and carbohydrates are not addictive on their own either. It is only when these two are paired together that the real damage is dealt to waistlines. There is now extra sugar in bread, pretzels, sweet cake creations, sweets and biscuits everywhere.
The Rise of the Coffee Shop
Anyone going outside of a tourist area whilst in Thailand just 15 years ago will remember that it was almost impossible to find a place to grab a morning coffee. Now however, there are coffee shops springing up everywhere. There is nothing wrong with one or two coffees in the morning of course; however, most coffees are now full of gunky creamy stuff, on top of people spooning in sugar into the mix. Just notice your coffee being made on your next visit to a coffee shop, as cream, gunky condensed milk and other sweet syrupy sludge is shovelled into your latte.
The Great Cheese Revolution
At the turn of the millennium, cheese in Thailand was thought to be a very strange thing to eat indeed. With many Thai people being disgusted by the thought of eating ‘milk that has gone off’. Over the last few decades Thai people’s mindsets have changed, mainly due to the rising popularity of cheese topped pizzas. You can now even find cheese on top of cake in Thailand.
The rapid expansion of 7/11s, Mini Marts and the like have been a godsend when it comes to convenience, but most of the food in these convenience stores are processed dried foods. To give them their due, fresh fruit and vegetables can sometimes be found, although most people are focused on grabbing a cheese and ham toasted sandwich, a sugary pre-packaged mixed instant coffee and a pot of dried processed noodles for the day.
A recent study showed that Thailand is ranked second in southeast Asia when it comes to weight gain, with 32.2 percent of adults being either overweight or obese, while Malaysia retains the number one spot clocking in with 44.2 percent. Vietnam is the least overweight country, with only 10.2 percent of adults being classed as overweight. In Vietnam, meat is eaten less often, whereas vegetables are eaten heartily, so that’s one up for vegetarians.
If you live in Bangkok you are more at risk of becoming overweight, whereas if you live in the northeastern area of Thailand you are least at risk. Obviously, it is not just Thailand that is feeling the effects of the global diet as well as our lifestyles having continually less physical exertion. In the U.S. a staggering 70.7 percent of adults are either overweight or obese! Sedentary lifestyles, processed foods and rising stress levels are making the whole world fatter, not just Thailand.