obesity in india

India can be proud of many things, but not its obesity quotient. It is an unfortunate fact that India stands second in the number of its obese children which stands at a whopping 14.4 million. 1 out of every 5 adults in India is overweight. Obesity in India has doubled and even trebled in the last 10 years. by 2025, India will have 17 million obese children to boast of.

The rapid proliferation of weight-loss regimes, dietary routines, exercise methods and bariatric surgery clinics is proof of the rising increase of obesity in India. Obesity has become the foremost of the public health problems in India.

With World Obesity Day having just concluded on October 11, it is time to introspect on obesity and its medical treatment in India.

Food and Nutrition Management to combat obesity in India

A research study conducted across various states in India showed 3 predominant dietary patterns traditionally.

  1. Cereal-savoury comprising of grains, pulses and spices
  2. Fruits-vegetables-sweets-snacks comprising of fruits and vegetables with sweets
  3. Animal-food comprising of dairy and meat products

Of these, the cereal-savoury diet had the least leanings towards obesity. 

It was also found that modern India was shifting its traditional dietary pattern to the Western diet comprising of higher intake of meat, high fat-dairy, refined grains and fast foods. This has led to the prevalence of obesity and an increase in diabetic and cardiovascular diseases in India.

A "prudent diet" with high intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and low-fat dairy is recommended by the food and nutrition management experts to combat obesity in India.

Obesity dietary guidelines

Obesity is the harbinger of chronic health issues like diabetes and heart ailments. Curbing weight-gain is effective only by following these obesity dietary guidelines strictly.

Avoid

  • Junk food - pizzas, burgers
  • Sugary foods- pastries, cakes, desserts and juices
  • Starchy foods like potatoes
  • Fatty Foods - cheese, full-fat milk or yoghurt, butter and oily foods
  • Canned foods as they contain extra sugar.
  • Salted foods like peanuts, pistachios and fries
  • Refined grains like white flour, white bread, white pasta
  • Red meats like pork and lamb
  • Processed meat like ham, bacon, sausage and salami.
  • Frequent and over-eating
  • Eating at restaurants and cafes as food cooked here has added preservatives and larger portions.

Eat

  • Whole grains like ragi, bajra, maize, jowar, millets and red or brown rice.
  • Whole pulses like chana dal and rajma
  • Lean meat like fish and chicken
  • Lots of vegetables
  • Whole fruits and not fruit juices
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Plant oil like olive or vegetable oils

Limit

  • Meal portions
  • Intake of fruit juices
  • Sugar intake to 10 teaspoons a day totally
  • Oil and salt intake

An ideal obesity-control food chart would be like this

  • Morning breakfast-whole wheat or brown bread sandwich with mint chutney and a bowl of cut fruits
  • Afternoon lunch- a bowl of brown rice with vegetables and dal and a glass of buttermilk.
  • Tea- a cup of tea with palm jaggery and 2 fibre-rich cookies.
  • Dinner- Roti with vegetables and salad.

Obesity as a current global health issue

Of all the current global health issues, obesity leads with 108 million children and 600 million adults with a BMI count of over 30 globally. As per the WHO standards, a BMI of over 25 is considered to be obese or overweight.

India's obesity quotient is escalating and it is time to spread awareness about the obesity dietary guidelines and the scope of medical treatment in India for weight gain issues. This can be done only by "leading by example"  to follow a "prudent dietary pattern" to curb obesity. Let us all join hands to oust obesity from India in a healthy way.