India, the Third Most Obese Country of the World
As of today, there are over 2.1 billion obese people worldwide and that means almost 30% of the world population. The flip side of the coin shows that that there are over 780 million people, representing about 12.9% of the developing nations that are going hungry; this paints a rather sad picture of the state of affairs in our world.
There is an interesting disparity of obesity rates among men and women, with women being twice as likely to be overweight as compared to men, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa and South-East Asia.
The US has the highest total percentage of obese people, standing at about 13%. China and India follow next in line, with India having the dubious honor of having the third highest percentage of obese and overweight people. This is specially upsetting as India also has undernutrition as a leading cause of death among children under the age of 5 years.
With increasing globalization, India is falling for the gimmicks of global food companies that promote the consumption of unhealthy, processed foods; this has led to epidemic proportions of obesity with morbid obesity affecting about 5% of the population. Easy accessibility to junk food coupled up with rising middleclass incomes has led to an increase in calorie intakes. Unfortunately the Indian culture is such that physical activity and burning off of all these extra calories isn’t given much importance, hence the increasing incidence of obesity.
What’s even creepier is the genetic predisposition of the Indian race towards abdominal obesity, thus making them prime targets for lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. On the international level, a BMI of 25kg/m2 is considered overweight, but the Indian Council of Medical Research in 2012 has deemed a BMI of over 23kg/m2 to be considered overweight, specifically for the Indian population.
Even though the incidence rate of obesity in India is about 15-30%, due to the higher population, the total number of people getting affected is higher than other countries which have higher incidence rates.
A reason for obesity in India could be due to the diet, which is rich in delicious carbohydrates and fats, but quite low in proteins. A more balanced diet with less of the lip-smacking calories would come in handy at this stage. Other factors could be our genes and lifestyle, but these can be easily taken care of by timely introducing changes that would include sufficient physical activities and exercise to balance out the calorie intakes and the energy burnt off.
Pregnancy has always been a source of celebration among Indians and mothers are encouraged to ‘eat for two’; this is however unnecessary as eating more of nutritive foods is what’s really needed for the baby’s normal growth.
All these factors, coupled up with the fact that Indians aren’t really inclined towards an active lifestyle, is fuelling the rising obesity epidemic in this country.