Solutions Begin with Awareness:
Exercise and proper diet are the most promising options to tackle obesity and some Asian governments have begun introducing new policies to aid people in their wellness. The Malaysian government recently implemented a sugar tax which is reported to significantly decrease the consumption of sugar by moderating the accessibility of sweetened beverages and soft drinks.
Thailand plans to tackle its obesity problems with research and education. Somdet Phra Mahathirajarn, the Abbot of Yannawa Temple, has been in charge of implementing new procedures led by Jongjit’s observations in finding ways to locate loopholes in the restrictions. Healthier menu options are an important addition to the planning as monks receive one meal prepared by the temple before taking their alms.
Jongjit started this journey eight years and reports that progress is visible but slow. And that is okay. In an interview, she stated:
“We started small, but we have to spread [the message]. Now we call it ‘one temple, one hospital.’ And with this national health strategy, we will distribute our [educational] media to at least 11,000 hospitals in Thailand— from the main hospitals in the provinces to the primary care district hospitals, the roots of our community.”
Yannawa Temple has brought over medical teams to measure the health standing of every monk, taking note of blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass indexes. The data gets recorded into a database that will be used for research in ways to battle the epidemic, and at the same time, educate the youth about proper diet routines.
Though this is a daunting task given the number of temples in Thailand, there is a determination to combat the problem and find a resolution. The goal is to teach not only the monks but the general public, about healthy living and proper nutrition so everybody can help each other.