Health clinics and hospitals nationwide have reported a spike in numbers of people seeking medical attention for digestive tract illnesses and allergic reactions to foods following the Mid-Autumn Festival.
A doctor said these complaints were mostly caused by improper cooking and overindulgence at barbecue parties.
Some hospitals also reported a big increase in the number of of patients seeking medical advice and treatment for weight reduction.
During the four-day holiday, street-sides and public parks were packed with friends and family gatherings for barbecuing and consuming mooncake treats. Some people even held barbecue parties for four consecutive evenings.
Taoyuan General Hospital doctor Chen Ching-yi (陳憬儀) said mooncake and barbecued meat are both high in calories, and people who do not usually eat a lot of these foods will find they cannot handle much.
Combined with improper handling and bad hygiene, people can easily suffer acute gastroenteritis, Chen said.
“At the Taoyuan General Hospital in the past few days, we have been seeing an average of 50 patients a day with stomachaches, vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive tract illness symptoms. This is a 30 percent increase over the normal period,” he added. “We also had quite a few patients with allergic reactions, who had eaten too many shrimps, crabs and seafood.”
Chen said that the majority of patients who came to hospital reported stomachaches soon after eating at barbecue parties. Then they began to throw up and had diarrhea.
“Many barbecues took place on or next to the street and it was easy for dust and fuel exhaust from passing cars and motorcycles to contaminate the food,” he said.
“Also rain and wet food are conducive to bacteria and microorganisms flourishing. Another factor is due to poor lighting, with some people consuming food that was not fully cooked,” Chen added.
Chen advised people to skip a few meals to empty out their stomach, while drinking plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes, and the symptoms should go away within one or two days.
“However, if diarrhoea is persistent, go to a hospital because the body will be dehydrated and the mouth and throat still dry, despite drinking water, and people may even have chest pains,” he said.
Chen said that to avoid getting gastroenteritis, people should eat in moderation.
“Most barbecue sauces have a high level of sodium. Consuming too much of it is a heavy burden on the heart and kidneys. In some cases, it can lead to hypertension and stroke,” the doctor said.
In terms of weight gain, one hospital reported patients had gained 2kg on average after the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.
Lin Sung-kai (林頌凱), head of the Weight Control Center at the Landseed Hospital (壢新醫院) in Taoyuan County, said to lose that weight, a person would have to run 616 laps around the average 400m track found in most schools.
“Mooncakes and barbecued meat with sauce are all high-energy food. The same goes for pomelos. Eating one pomelo and one egg-yolk tart is equivalent to the calories in one bowl of rice. One bottle of 250ml barbecue sauce is equivalent to about two bowls of rice,” Lin said.
When people overindulge at barbecue parties, they will inevitably gain weight and need to be prescribed a strict regimen of dieting and physical exercise to lose weight, he added.