The Thai government is looking to up the standing of its people in the world- literally. The population is being urged to up their milk intake over the next few years, with hopes of upping the average stature of the next generation by up to 8cm.
Every citizen, from babies to senior citizens, is being urged to drink one glass of milk every day. Speaking at the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s World Milk Day,, the deputy public health minister, Cholanan Srikaew, stated that the campaign could increase the height of 18-year-old Thais by 8cm from the current 167cm (5 foot 5 3/4) for boys and 157cm (5 foot 1) for girls. The scheme could also extend average life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.
In terms of annual milk consumption, Thais significantly lag behind the rest of the world, getting through a mere 14 liters each, compared to the international average of 103.9 and Asian average of 60 liters.
The campaign comes alongside a wider project to encourage women to breastfeed their children for longer and refrain from using any less healthy substitutes for their first six months, before then moving them on to two or three glasses of cow’s milk during kindergarten. School children will be encouraged to drink two glasses of milk a day.
Though the benefits are impressive, it may be hard to get the population to convert to this new national dietary shift. For a start, many Thai people suffer from lactose intolerance. Much of the milk consumed in Thailand comes in the form of thick, sweet condensed milk which in itself presents a health hazard if consumed in excess. Another PR issue is that for many, milk is a drink for weaklings, and the Thai word for milk and breast is interchangeable, making it unlikely that self-conscious young people will willingly order the drink in public.