All You Need to Know About Obesity in Thailand

Obesity is a complex disorder which is caused by excessive amounts of fat in the body. Being obese means, you are more likely to suffer from serious health complications like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. 

If you wish to prevent becoming obese or wish to lose weight, you must eat healthy, exercise regularly (it is recommended to do a minimum of 30 minutes light exercise per day) and make some immediate lifestyle changes. Even a minimal amount of weight loss can improve your health problems and prevent other complications associated with obesity. 

Thailand is one of the Asian countries with the highest prevalence of obesity, second only to Malaysia. Obesity in both males and females is highly prevalent in Bangkok with 38.8% and 49.4% respectively. Whereas, the central part of Thailand sees 33.3% of males and 44.5% of females as obese. The southern part of Thailand has about 27.4% and 44.7% obese males and females respectively, while the northern regions witness 27.5% male and 36.3% female population as obese.  

obesity asia

What is obesity?

Obesity is based on your body mass index (BMI) which can be calculated as a ratio of your weight to your height. If your BMI is 30 or more, you fall under the obese category. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight. However, BMI cannot differentiate between fat mass, muscle mass or bone mass and hence cannot provide an exact distribution of fat in your body.  But for a majority of people BMI useful gauge on whether they are a healthy weight or not.

Causes of obesity -

Obesity primarily occurs due to intake of more calories than your body can burn by means of daily exercise or physical activity, which is consequently stored as fat. These calories are particularly found in fatty and sugary foods. Modern living can lead us to eating a lot of cheap- calorific food and spending excessive amounts of time sitting down, whether it be in the office or relaxing at home.

While the primary cause of obesity is down to lifestyle it can be linked to both medical and non-medical causes.

Medical causes -

  1. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is caused due to an underactive thyroid where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones necessary for proper functioning of your body and can cause increased weight gain. 

  1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition which can lead to obesity due to hormonal imbalance in females. Along with the other symptoms of acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), acanthosis nigricans (blackish discolouration) and irregular periods, weight gain is one of the commonest symptoms of PCOS. 

  1. Cushing Syndrome 

A condition caused due to excessive amounts of cortisol hormone in your body can also lead to excessive weight gain.

Non-Medical Causes -

  1. Physical Inactivity 

When you are not physically active, your metabolism is thought to slow down, which negatively affects the way in which your body breaks down fat. A sedentary lifestyle can also make you put on more weight as you tend to eat more and exercise less.

  1. Unhealthy dietary habits 

You are more prone to weight gain when you eat out regularly or order takeaway food, which in today’s world of Grab Food and Foodpanda is far too easy. We can overcome this by cooking at home or trying to order healthier foods and smaller portions. Foods that are not homemade are usually high on calories and unhealthy for you. 

  1. Lack of sleep 

Not sleeping enough sleep causes hormonal changes making you feel hungry and crave unhealthy high-calorie foods. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you listen to this TED talk by Dr Matthew Walker.

healthy lifestyle for obesity

What are the risks of obesity?

Obesity is a complex disorder that has detrimental effects beyond just weight gain. A high ratio of body fat to muscle adds strain on your bones and ligaments as well as your internal organs. 

Obesity is linked to various diseases, some of which are life-threatening like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnoea, infertility, arthritis, etc. Moreover, research shows that excess body fat increases your risk for several cancers, including colorectal, breast, uterine, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers.

The day-to-day problems caused by obesity which tend to affect your quality of life include depression, sexual problems like loss of libido, shame, guilt, social awkwardness and isolation, lowered self-confidence, and lethargy. 

How to treat obesity?

Obesity mainly requires positive lifestyle changes along with regularised eating and physical activity. 

You can start making changes today by reading our Beginners Guide to Starting Exercise or maybe you’d prefer to try out one of the gyms included in the Luma member privileges.

Your healthcare team or doctor can help educate you on healthier food choices, develop a healthy eating plan and a workout regime. A structured schedule of daily physical activity which includes exercises for building your strength, endurance and metabolism, along with counselling and support will help you lose weight. With some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery in the World, Thailand is a great place to discover activities that you enjoy that also keep you active. 

There are a number of groups on social media platforms that you can join to find like-minded people to keep active with. 

Some individuals who do not respond to lifestyle changes and weight loss programs may require medical intervention. 

Medications that prevent fat absorption or suppress appetite can be prescribed by your doctor for promoting weight loss but only for a limited period of time. In some cases, the last option is weight loss surgery also known as Bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery works by limiting the amount of food you can normally eat or prevents your body from accepting and absorbing the food and its calories. Surgical options include gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LABG), gastric sleeve and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.

Luma health insurance policies play an active role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, from its healthy recipe downloads to its member privileges. If you’re interested in getting comprehensive health insurance that cares for you, get in touch with our team for a free quote today.

Thailand Health Insurance