News / Asia

Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food

Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, 8 July, 2010.
Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, 8 July, 2010.

Despite the widespread problem of hunger in Asia, growing economies have lifted many out of poverty. And as incomes expand, so too, are diets. Some health officials say this is causing new problems for Asia's growing middle class.

So, the next time you step into a fast food joint, you may want to choose a regular cheeseburger instead of a Big Mac. Why not super-size your burger?  Because there is a risk of a jaw injury. Dentists in Southeast Asia say they are seeing an increase in the number of jaw disorders and they are blaming stress and the growing popularity of big-sized, Western-style fast food.

Specialized dentist Ansgar Cheng runs a clinic in Singapore. In fact, he is a prothodontist. This reporter asked Cheng what exactly that means.

"We are specialists in reconstructions and the biomechanics of jaw joints," explains Cheng, whose training makes him an expert in temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. The painful condition occurs when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull becomes inflamed, making chewing painful.

Over the past few years, Cheng says he has seen a considerable increase in the number of TMJ problems, adding that a lot of it can be blamed on people eating super-sized burgers.

"On average most Asians are petite-sized people so, in general, we could say our jaw openings are somewhat smaller than Westerners," he notes.

Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food
Dentists Warn Asians Not to 'Super-Size' Their Food

Cheng explains that Asians trying to fit a Big Mac into their mouths could over-stretch their chewing muscles, damage mouth cartilage or even dislocate their jaw.

Cheng, who received his training in the United States and Canada, says most people are unaware of TMJ problems, which confuses people when the symptoms arise.

"Like most joints we have two bones riding against each other," he says. "In between the bones we have cartilage, but what happens with TMJ is there is a thin piece of floating cartilage in between the two bones. When we overwork the jaw joints the piece of cartilage gets worn down and we start to experience clicking or pain in the jaw joints."

The injury itself is not necessarily serious at first. But the dentist says that because of the unique conditions in the mouth, and our need to eat food everyday, the problem can become serious.

"If you have a cut on your skin, it takes seven days to heal, no big deal. You break a piece of bone it takes seven to eight weeks to heal. But cartilage is notoriously hard to get healed," Cheng points out. "It takes up to four months and that's the period that causes people problems. What ever noise happens to be in jaw joints it magnifies a lot and you hear that clicking sound."

I suppose we could go on and on about the danger of eating over-sized burgers, but wouldn't it just make a lot of sense to simply cut our food in half so we do not overdue it with our jaws?

Cheng agrees. "That's exactly the case. Instead of getting a giant burger, just go to the same burger joint and ask for a regular burger."

Although it is a rather odd idea that big hamburgers are causing health problems among the small-mouthed people of the world, dentists warn that TMJ is not something to take lightly.

Without treatment, the situation could get worse and become a chronic problem. So remember to cut your hamburgers -- and do not ignore your dentist.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid