Obesity in Asia Part II; Global Solutions


Obesity Campaign Poster

Image by Pressbound via Flickr


We all know that the globalization of food and general western ideas is spreading across the world from Africa to South America and Asia. Here in Asia I have watched as numerous fast food companies have developed strong footing in the region, the latest company being Krispy Kreme Donuts which just opened a brand new location in Bangkok’s most famous shopping mega-complex Siam Paragon. The march is on by the fast food giants and they are selling the world on early onset of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

The rapid growth of wealth and prosperity in this region coupled with a lack of health initiatives and educational programs has allowed the quick injection of these companies along with their marketing genius.  The kids are recognizably fatter than before. Many long term expatriates have said that they can clearly see the difference in size of Thai people today versus 10 years ago or even 20 years ago. In general the world as a whole lacks proper educational programs and funding to combat the spread of this global phenomenon.

Health professionals like me are fighting an uphill battle to mitigate the impact of these food giants, but it’s a tough battle when battling addiction. I say addiction, because quite like the cigarette which is simple a nicotine dispenser, the fast foods and packaged goods are simply sugar dispensers. Sugar has an impact on mood, energy levels and overall state of being and we are all addicted to the joys of sugar on varying levels.

So how can we as individuals help remedy this growing problem?

Well first of all I believe that education is the key starting point. We must provide proper nutritional education and an understanding of how foods affect the body, muscle, fat storage and fat loss. We must couple this with fundamental education on exercise and overall health and fitness. This should be the baseline for any initiative for global health.

Of course leading by example is something that has to occur and since we are the adults, this makes us responsible for the future of our children. With that said, we should focus our efforts not only on adult education programs, but on education programs for children of both advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds. One could argue that disadvantaged children are more likely to miss out on educational opportunities, but at this point in time I don’t think either side is getting proper guidance.

Children are highly influenced by what they see their adult counterparts partaking in. Parents, school teachers and others involved with children must make a concerted effort to make sure this influence is positive and promotes as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. It all starts with leading by example.

I’ve recently come across a couple simple and easy examples of adults making a difference in the health choices of children.

  • One example I witnessed was a mother telling her teenage child that she couldn’t have a Coke when she reached across the table for it. The girl retorted, “but I’m a 14,” and the mother responded “and I’m older than that but I don’t drink Coke.”  Remember we are the adults, the parents, and we do have the final word.
  • Another example is a mom who joined her children in a small group personal training session. They experienced exercise together, discussed their nutritional choices and absorbed as much as they could from their training sessions and short nutrition talks.

Both of these examples show a parent participating in the healthy lifestyle of the child. Both of these examples also portray a “do as I do” instead of a “do as I say, not as I do,” attitude.  It doesn’t take much effort to make small differences. It is these small differences that when added up create big change.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. With the fast food giants bringing this battle to our doorstep it’s up to us to arm ourselves with the tools to win this war.

By Rich Thurman, B.Sc., MA, CSCS, CPT.
With a Bachelors degree in Physiological Science from UCLA a Masters in Sports Management from The University of San Francisco, Rich has over 10 years of experience in General Health Fitness & Fat loss, Sports Performance & Movement, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation. Rich is a health & performance coach and personal trainer for Active Lifestyle Co. Ltd inBangkok.


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 in Asia Part II; Global Solutions

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