TAIWAN - Soldiers will become too fat and unable to fight if they are ordered to eat a kilogram of pork each day, a physician said yesterday, underscoring the lack of sense in a recommendation by opposition politicians to alleviate the plight of pig farmers in the country.
Pork sales recently declined as the country was embroiled in a controversy over whether or not the government should allow imports of beef and other meats containing residue of leanness enhancers.
"It is too much of an excess, a kilogram of pork a day," Chu Nien-feng, director of the Department of Community Medicine at Shuang-Ho Hospital in Taipei, said after two lawmakers from the opposition the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had called for such a measure to create a demand for pork and increase the income of pig farmers.
"Eating a kilogram of pork daily would mean an extra 4,000 or 5,000 grand calories and increase energy intake by up to 200 per cent," Chu said, adding that such a diet would make soldiers fat and too clumsy to run.
In addition, their blood vessels would be afflicted with such troubles as atherosclerosis, which can lead to cardiovascular problems including stroke and myocardial infarction, thus seriously affecting the combat strength of the army.
The consequences would be too dreadful to contemplate if soldiers are forced to eat a kilogram of pork daily, Chu said, who said a daily intake of 100 or 200 grams is already too much, because pork contains large amount of fat.
In what might be called a "pork barreling" move, Liu Chien-kuo and Chen Ming-wen, both from the DPP, demanded at a press conference yesterday that the country's 270,000 servicemen eat a kilogram of pork a day.
"A 100-kilogram pig sells for less than NT$5,000 (S$213) nowadays," Liu said, adding that if each soldier eats a kilogram of pork each day, roughly 3,000 more will be sold each day.
The DPP lawmaker also suggested that his recommendation be immediately carried out. Merely encouraging the procurement of pork is not enough, said Liu.
"Our pigs are not fed leanness enhancers and eating pork is a good deed," Liu stressed.
Commenting on the lawmakers' recommendation, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman said the ministry had recently increased its purchases of pork while trying to maintain variety in army mess halls.