Text Lisa McConnell
Asia is increasingly dotted with big brand Western fast food outlets. Local supermarkets stock a vast selection of popular, prepackaged convenience foods. On the back of this culinary globalisation, younger generations have strayed from traditional culinary roots, which may account for the exponential rise in diet- and lifestyle-related diseases.
Some of Asia’s traditional dishes and ingredients seem in danger of being lost, whilst others have become revered as “superfoods”. Consider the health benefits of some of the region’s delicious traditional foods.
Scroll over each food item to read more:
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Eat Smart, Live Long
According to the World Health Organization (based on a compilation of data from a variety of sources – including grassroot organisations), noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), or “lifestyle” diseases in Southeast Asia:
- Claim an estimated 8.5 million lives annually
- Are the top killers in the region
- Are responsible for a third of deaths occurring before age 70
- Are contributed to extensively by an unhealthy diet
This doesn’t stop with Asia. Globally, unhealthy diets are seen as one of the four major contributors to the escalation of NCDs. According to the 2017 WHO global NCD Factsheet:
- NCDs kill 40 million people each year and account for 70 percent of all deaths
- The four diseases listed above account for 80 percent of all premature deaths
- Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980
- In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight; over 600 million were obese
- 41 million children under the age of five
were overweight or obese in 2014
For more stories and photographs from this issue, see Asian Geographic Issue 127, 2017.