World

Obese is a problem in India

May 26, 2022 9:00 am

[Source: BBC News]

Indians are getting fatter, according to a new government survey, and experts are warning about a health emergency unless the growing obesity problem is tackled on a war footing.

Once considered a problem of the affluent West, obesity has been spreading in recent years in low and middle-income countries – and nowhere is it spreading more rapidly than in India.

Long known as a country of malnourished, underweight people, it has broken into the top five countries in terms of obesity in the past few years.

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One estimate in 2016 put 135 million Indians as overweight or obese. That number, health experts say, has been growing rapidly and the country’s undernourished population is being replaced by an overweight one.

According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), the most comprehensive household survey of health and social indicators by the government, nearly 23% of men and 24% of women were found to have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more – a 4% increase for both genders over 2015-16. The data also shows that 3.4% of children under five are now overweight compared with 2.1% in 2015-16.

“We are in an obesity epidemic in India and globally, and I fear it could soon become a pandemic if we don’t address it soon,” warns Dr Ravindran Kumeran, a surgeon in the southern city of Chennai (Madras) and founder of the Obesity Foundation of India.

Dr Kumeran blames sedentary lifestyles and the easy availability of cheap, fattening foods as the main reasons why “most of us, particularly in urban India, are now out of shape”.