( dpa ) - Thais eat out at least 13 times a week, the highest rate in South-East Asia, and it is starting to show on their waist lines, media reports said Thursday.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Kasikorn Research Centre, Thais on average spend 927 baht (28 dollars) to eat out 13 times a week, which may go some way towards explaining why 18 per cent of the population are obese, said The Nation newspaper.
Thai health advocates, who gathered at a meeting in Bangkok on Wednesday, warned that 12 million Thais now suffer from obesity which leads to dangerous health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes, the main causes of death in the country.Between 1986 to 2004 the kingdom has seen the number of overweight people increase 7.5 times, with the growing waistlines blamed on changing lifestyles and eating habits, such as a new found fondness for fast foods, said Dr Saming Kaocharoen, a health advocate.
There are currently more than 1,000 fast-food outlets operating in Thailand, with many more under construction.
According to research conducted by Dr Khanat Kruthkul, a specialist in cardiology, a plate of fried chicken, french fries and a soft drink contains 1,025 calories while a cheeseburger contains 410 calories.
But Thai street food is equally to blame for the rising calorie intake.
Thai fast foods, popular at the country's ubiquitous street stall, are equally calorie-loaded. A plate of Pad Thai, or Thai style fried noodles, contains 700 calories while Somtam (papaya salad), sticky rice and grilled chicken, another Thai favourite, contains 760 calories, according to Khanat's fast food chart.
He advises men to keep their calorie intake down to 2,000 a day, and women should keep it below 1,500.