Source: The Guardian
BY Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Bangkok
Every morning at dawn, the food is dished out to Thailand’s monks in abundance: donations of sticky rice, cakes, noodles, sweet pudding, dumplings, shop-bought snacks and Thai desserts coated with condensed milk and coconut cream.
Yet the tradition of giving food, known as alms, to the monks every morning as a way to accumulate karma for this life and the next has precipitated an obesity crisis amongst the clergy.
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 Thailandhave traditionally kept trim and healthy by fasting after midday.
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.