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Battle of the Buddha Bulge – Tackling the monk obesity crisis

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Or “Too Much Junk for Chunky Monks”

“Monks often live an unhealthily, sedentary lifestyle but exercise is a particularly sensitive subject. They must not be seen to be vain, and also cannot wear shoes, two factors that make working out and fitness something of a spiritual minefield.”

Contrary to the well-known depiction of a Buddha as a man with a vast round belly and several chins – taken from the Chinese folklore of an eccentric 10th century monk – until recently the 300,000 monks in Thailand have traditionally kept trim and healthy by fasting after midday.

The Guardian reports that, while they still fast, the food and drinks they consume every morning is so unhealthy the number of overweight and unhealthy monks now exceeds the national average, with a 45% rate of obesity, 6.5% rate of diabetes and extremely high rates of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Modern lifestyles and high sugar foods have been blamed. Thailand is already one of the fattest countries in Asia, second only to neighbouring Malaysia. Monks have no choice but to eat the food that is donated, and it is traditional for people to donate their favourite foods, or the favourite foods of their dead relatives, meaning that puddings and sweets feature heavily in monks’ diets.

Read the rest of The Guardian article HERE.

 

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