Women in Cities are at Higher Risk of Obesity
The WHO has claimed that more than a billion people are overweight worldwide out of which 300 million are obese. Out of this figure, women have a higher rate of being obese as compared to men. In India, the National family Health Survey (2005-2006) has shown that obesity is more prevalent in urban centers, more so in the non-poor households. The results also showed that women from non-poor homes are 3 times more at risk of becoming obese. In urban India, 23% women are found to be overweight or obese as compared to only 20% of men. Comparatively, only 7% of women in the rural areas are obese. With this overwhelming evidence of obesity in women, especially abdominal obesity, urban women need to take care as there are numerous health issues associated with obesity.
Obese women are particularly susceptible to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, with risks of death getting higher with increasing weight. Obesity also increases the risk of several types of cancers, including postmenopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer. Women who are obese also run the risk of having lower back pain and knee osteoarthritis. And if you thought that was enough, here’s more! Obesity also has a negative impact on fertility and contraception, with majority of obese women having to opt for cesarean sections for safe delivery.
Trying to find a reason for this peculiar trend in urban women has found many takers; rising income and better socio-economic status can lead to women heading for a sedentary lifestyle with consequent weight gain. Another aspect could be marital status and media exposure. Although good healthy tips are shown on media, it also introduces us to numerous energy-saving machines that will do the work that women would normally do, junk foods that only add useless calories and hours sitting sedentary in front of a screen! All this physical inactivity leads to weight gain, especially among the non-poor who can afford to pay for all these expensive appliances and energy-dense junk foods. So curbing a sedentary lifestyle would go a long way in leading to better weight management. With a flourishing IT sector that mainly involves desk jobs and long hours of sitting in one position, and food eaten on the go, weight gain is almost a guaranteed feature of this industry.
So, changing diet and lifestyles at individual levels, as well as changes in environmental and cultural norms could go a long way in saving urban women from obesity and its associated overwhelming health conditions.
The challenge before the government now is to address this rising epidemic as a preventive towards minimizing the associated co-morbidities such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and infertility in India.