Obesity, which is a serious public health concern, is increasing rapidly among children, said experts on the occasion of World Obesity Day.
Indians are highly prone to lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer which, coupled with obesity, can only aggravate the health complications.
World Obesity Day is observed globally on March 4 every year. This year’s World Obesity Day Theme is ‘Every Body Needs Everybody’.
India has the second-highest number of obese children in the world after China, according to a study, which means that 14.4 million kids in the country have excess weight. Healthcare experts have attributed the rise in obesity to unhealthy food choices and lack of physical activities among children and even adults.
Type 2 diabetes, which mostly affected the age group of 30+, is becoming more common in children as young as 12 years old.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is 15% and for those studying in private schools catering to upper-income families, the incidence has shot up to 35-40%, indicating a worrying upward trend.
These findings indicate a lack of physical activity among kids who are spending most of their time on gadgets or studies. The consumption of junk food has also increased in the past few years.
According to the ICMR-INDIAB study 2015, the prevalence rate of obesity varies from 11.8 % to 31.3%, and central obesity from 16.9%36.3%. A total of 5% of the Indian population is morbidly obese, (>30 Body Mass Index). Obesity in the central part of the body has a strong link to heart disease and a major cause for worry.
Studies indicate that the life expectancy of persons with severe obesity (BMI 40) is reduced by as much as 20 years in men and by about 5 years in women.
“Obesity is associated with higher rates of death driven by comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), dyslipidemia, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), certain types of cancer, steatohepatitis, gastroesophageal reflux, arthritis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and infertility,’’ said Dr Saratchandra, Senior Consultant Cardiologist, Indo-US Hospitals.
Studies also indicate that people who modify their lifestyle to be healthy have seen a 55% reduction in diabetes, while those who were managed just with medication saw a 30% to 35% reduction in diabetes.
“We Indians have a strong genetic pool and therefore we need to be extra careful to maintain the right body weight from the beginning to keep diabetes at bay effectively,” said Dr NG Sastry, senior consultant.
A BMI less than 22 should be the goal of every patient, both diabetic and non-diabetic, according to doctors.
“Indians are at a higher risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The risk of CAD in Indians is 3-4 times higher than White Americans, 6-times higher than Chinese, 20-times higher than Japanese. Indians are prone as a community to CAD at a much younger age, 5-10 years earlier than other communities,” said Dr Dilip Gude, Chief Consultant Physician and Diabetologist, Virinchi Hospital.
Doctors suggest the adoption of a variety of foods for combating obesity
According to doctors and medical experts, the most important step towards improving one’s health is to bring the BMI to 22 or less.
“Whole fruits without discarding the fiber in fruit juices; vegetables, not starches like potatoes; whole grains and millets, nuts, white meat like fish, poultry for proteins; using plant oils on rotation like groundnut, mustard oil, til, flower oils. Eat home food, chew properly and drink water and other calorie-free beverages, this should be coupled with physical activity for about 45 minutes daily,” said Aparna Nemalikanti.