Obesity Growing in AsiaPart 1; A Global Problem

Obesity Campaign Poster

Image by Pressbound via Flickr

Have you ever had your body fat tested? Do you realize that just because you’re small or because you’re smaller than most people and look slim that you still may have unhealthy levels of body fat?

I live in Asia so it’s only right that I discuss the issues facing my country of residence. I have not forgotten my American roots, but the epidemic that was once only an American issue is now a pandemic. Obesity is on the rise globally and where there’s an inferno blazing out of control in the United States, Asia is smoking. But where there is smoke there is fire right?

America is a developed nation and let’s face it, where many developing nations like Thailand are today, America was ages ago.  With the growing wealth of the nation, with people beginning to spend more time in the office than being active and the addition of fast food chains, we are seeing a rise in obesity amongst people along with an increase in various health issues that coincide with obesity, like type 2 Diabetes.

According to a short May 18, 2007 article by Bob Toovey on sizenet.com:

“Thailand is normally known for its slim line population however a recent survey has revealed that obesity is on the rise. Less traditional food is being eaten and more workers are sitting at desks. Western fast food is increasingly an influence.

A Ministry of Public Health study in 2003 found that 33.8 per cent of Thai females and 31.5 per cent of males were obese, representing a 50 per cent rise from 1998.

The study focused on body mass index, which assesses a person’s weight relative to height. It used tougher standards than those employed by the World Health Organisation, which means many of the people considered obese in Thailand might be merely overweight in other countries.”

There are multiple problems confronting not only the global society, but the society that I reside. Typically people tend to compare themselves to others and it is that comparison that offers people solace in the fact that other people are worse off than they are. So typically people return from America and say wow those people are overweight or those people are fat, but because you are not as big as them it means that you must be just fine. Wrong!

First of all, the only person anyone should truly compete with when it comes to body image is themselves. Living up to the standards of others or drawing comparisons only provides a person with a false image and often times down a path of other issues and disorders.

Secondly, to compare the current sizes and obesity problems to that of America is like comparing apples and oranges. Not only do the people of America make up a more diverse population, with a diversity of different foods, but the fast food and dining experiences that are currently just arriving on Asia’s door step have been in America for years now and had plenty of time to take effect.

Third, health and fitness is still a young market in Asia and many people still don’t understand how important proper nutrition and exercise prescription are. Globally it’s difficult to understand what to do in terms of fitness and health, however in my experience living throughout Asia the understanding and overall knowledge of physical education and its importance to health in comparison to the Western world is slightly behind. More emphasis is placed on vibrating machines, sauna suits and quick fixes instead of the actual work that needs to be performed to change your body for good.

Finally, the density of qualified fitness professionals in Asia is far lower than that of the West. Not only are there very few accredited certifying bodies in Asia, but many so called “professionals” are simply unqualified and lack an overall understanding of biomechanics as well as nutritional and hormonal components of health and fitness.

So now that we understand a few of the problems facing us in this epidemic spreading into Asia we can begin to work on solutions. The first step to recovery is admitting that there is a problem. Americans have been blindsided, misinformed and slapped in the face by this problem and although it can be repaired, it will take a lot of work. Instead of following in the footsteps of America as most countries do, it’s time for the rest of the world to avoid the same plight when it comes to health and fitness.

Part II: The Global Solutions

By Rich Thurman, B.Sc., MA, CSCS, CPT

Health & Performance Coach

Active Lifestyle Co. Ltd

With a degree in Physiology from UCLA and a Masters Degree in Sports & Fitness Management, Rich combines his knowledge of rehabilitation and sports performance as well as nutritional studies to provide a complete and holistic approach to training clients. The focus is on lifestyle change which creates long term health.

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About Rich Thurman III B.Sc, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Rich has a Bachelors of Science in Physiological Science from UCLA and a Masters of Sports Management from USF. He is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, (NSCA) as a Personal Trainer (CPT) and Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He is primary author of The Fitness Library and writes for various other publications, including the San Francisco Police Officer's Association. Rich is the founder of Xodus Fitness, which offers Fitness Consulting & Personal Training, Urban Body Transformation Bootcamps, Corporate Wellness. Rich also conducts Workshops and an annual lecture at the San Francisco State University Kinesiology Department. Please feel free to contact through any of the links below to inquire about professional services or opportunities.

2 Responses to Obesity Growing in AsiaPart 1; A Global Problem

  1. Keith says:

    Excellent topics. I really like this.

  2. aieharry says:

    Great post… and I get more information from this post
    Thanks a lot

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