Buddhist monks in Thailand are facing health issues due to obesity. Around half of  the monks in Thailand are obese, according to a study conducted by academics in Bangkok.

The study is conducted by researchers at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. They found that nearly 300,000 monks are obese and suffering from diseases related to their current conditions. The researchers said that 48 percent of the men were obese, 42 percent had high cholesterol level, 23 percent had high blood pressure and around ten percent had diabetes, reported News Grio. Although the actual number of monks involved in the study was not revealed.

The researchers found that the monks were obese as they received alms in the form of food donations from devout Buddhists. These faithful Buddhists  do so as they believe donating food to monks brings good luck. The monks’ waistlines  are said to be growing rounder because donations include popular dishes which are full of fat. Dishes like Kaeng kaew wan, tod mun, thong yib, foy thong and khaotommud which are full of fat and sugar are also offered.  As well as sugary beverages like juices, instant tea, and coffee.

Dr. Jongjit Angkatavanich, a nutrition and diet expert at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said, “obesity in our monks is a ticking time bomb.”

Although, Thai government pays for their medical costs, the bills are actually picked up by the Thais. More than $11259707.437 (300000000 Baht) of taxpayers’ money was spent for their treatment in 2012, reported Bangkok Post.

Dr. Jongjit stated that the findings of the study have triggered a campaign to promote a healthy balanced diet for the monks.

To raise awareness about the monks’ health issues among the faithful, activities were held. Training programmes for cooks and officials were conducted. Healthy meals with protein and fibre rich dishes were prepared for them. They were also urged to increase their physical activities.

Jongjit said, “The results were satisfactory since the monks’ overall health had improved. They showed monks lost 1kg on average and their waistlines were reduced by 1.4 cm.”  There was also a significant a drop in their cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.

A recent study conducted by the researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom said that one glass of water before meal can help in shedding some extra pounds.