In a huge national effort to combat obesity, the department of health in Taiwan is trying to get citizens to lose a combined 600 tonnes in weight.
The goal has been set in light of rising obesity levels in Taiwan, with obesity soaring from just 12% twenty years ago to 47% now.
In the city of Taipei, the mayor Hau Lung-Pin wants residents to contribute towards this ambitious target by losing 101 tonnes in fat. A weight loss hotline has been set up to dispense advice and answer questions about dieting, and to explain how to calculate calories.
The phone line is staffed by two nutritionists who have so far answered questions such as “Is it unhealthy to skip breakfast?” and “Should I not use cream when I drink coffee?” according to IOL News. If callers agree, phone staff will call back over a three month period, in order to check their dieting progress.
In 2009 the China Post, a Taiwanese newspaper, argued that “The government should step in and declare war on obesity, a national problem that will lead to a substantial impact on Taiwan's economy and social stability.”
The newspaper highlighted a survey which recently showed that the percentage of overweight or obese Taiwanese children rocketed from 6% to 25% in 10 years. It blamed the “Americanization” of food culture in Taiwan on the problem and said that sedentary lifestyles were on the increase.
Obesity is a significant health problem worldwide. It can cause type 2 diabetes and heart failure as well as numerous other health conditions.