BANGKOK – Department of Health deputy director-general Theerapol Topanthanont said on Monday that about one in five Thai preschoolers and one in 10 children of school age may suffer from obesity by 2015 because they are not getting proper nutrition.
Dr Theerapol said Thai children on average consume only about one and a half tablespoons of vegetables each day, instead of the recommended 12 tablespoons. Many children were also lacking iodine or iron, which could lead to various health problems.
He warned that obese people had a higher risk of exposure to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The Department of Health was cooperating with nine pilot provinces in developing programmes to improve the eating habits of children before school age and teenagers during school years.
Dr Theerapol said his department has urged provincial agencies to improve the quality of food in schools and childcare centres by raising the budget for lunches from 13 baht to 15 to 20 baht per student.
The department also encouraged the public to participate in the production of media for nutrition communication. Local volunteers and the media play an important part in educating people about proper nutrition and diet, he added.
Thailand ranks among countries with the world’s fastest-growing number of overweight children, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).