A recent survey by Madras Medical College of 5,097 students in classes XI and XII in schools run by Chennai Corporation, found that more than 10 per cent of the children were obese and over nine per cent, hypertensive. While 250 students (184 girls) were obese and 510 students were overweight, it was found that among them, 530 students (492 girls) were centrally obese, with a waist circumference over normal limits. The report also stated that over 40 per cent avoid vegetables every day, and nearly 90 per cent of them eat no fruits. The students were also found to consume sugary beverages (soft drinks) twice a week and around 35 per cent of them watch television for more than two hours a day — making their lifestyles somewhat unhealthy.
"Basically, the sudden urbanization of the two-tier cities, transformation to metros and altered lifestyle are to be blamed for increasing obesity. People prefer to use transport over walking small distance and eat junk food. There is no time to exercise because of hectic work schedules. All this has multiplied into increasing obesity in growing south Indian cities like Kochi and Bangalore," said Dr M Ramesh, bariatric and diabetic surgeon, Vikram Hospital.
Working in different shifts and almost round-the-clock, which is prevalent in IT sector and call centres, not eating on time and less physical activity are being blamed for increasing obesity amongst Bangaloreans. The survey found that 71% Bangaloreans preferred eating fried and fatty food while 43% preferred eating junk food like pizzas and burgers over healthy diet. Compared to Bangalore, 53% in Chennai, 67% in Hyderabad and 59% in Kochi preferred eating fried and fatty food, while 8% in Chennai, 38% in Hyderabad and 25% in Kochi preferred junk food.
It is also said that 22% of those surveyed did not do or never intend to do anything to control their increasing weight. 33% in Chennai, 15% in Hyderabad and 17% in Kochi said that they did nor or never intend to do anything to control their increasing weight.
Indian gene is also said to be one of the causes. Said Dr Nandakishore Dukkipati, bariatric surgeon and MD, Livelife Hospitals, Hyderabad: "Obesity is a multifactorial disorder. Besides lifestyle changes, the genetic structure also plays a role in increasing obesity. Indian and most of Asia-Pacific population have mutation of MC4R genes, which essentially increases the risk of putting of extra weight around the waistline and thereby leading to obesity."
36% Bangaloreans eat out once a week. The two IT cities of South have higher frequency when it comes to eating out. While 36% of Bangaloreans said that they eat out at least once a week, it is 17% in Hyderabad. While 6% in Bangalore said that they eat out every day, the figure is 14% for Hyderabad. In Chennai, 0% people surveyed said that they eat out every day, while in Kochi it is 10%.
Dr HV Shivaram, chief of gastrointestinal and bariatric surgery, Columbia Asia Hospitals, said: "Obesity is directly related to behavioural and environmental factors. Eating out falls under behavioural pattern. Today, food is readily available by simply making a phone call and at affordable rate. Outside food is rich in oil, fats and calories, which increases weight. Eating out for a long period of time can increase the risk of obesity and lead to many complementary diseases. Physical activity is a must."
In a report, last year (2011) it was stated that an alarming 70 per cent of India's urban young population (24 to 39 years) in the obese or overweight category. And, at risk is the generation that Facebooks rather than go over to meet friends, bonds over gaming sessions on Playstations or X-boxes rather than play cricket or badminton, the study warns. The national capital faces the ignominy of being the obesity capital of the country, while Chandigarh shares the top spot with Delhi. Why urban India? Experts suggest obesity has to do with the lifestyle of the majority of the population in urban India. The urban populace has easy access to high-calorie packaged foods such as burgers, chips and colas. Moreover, people in cities follow a sedentary lifestyle. Little or no physical activity and a predilection for gizmos such as video games, computers are to blame.
Interestingly, I have observed that obesity is perceived to be “healthy’ in Indian context! In socio-psychological aspect, the ‘curves and rounds’(irrespective of gender) becomes a sign of ‘wealth and good health”. In Hindi, the over curved body suggests the individual is from “khate pite ghar’ (from a well to do family).
If you have a look at Hindu gods (shown below) , you will understand that obesity is a part of our social recognition to appear ‘wealthy’!
Not only in human body, a ‘obese looking car’ (ie. Mahindra XUV = xuv sounds as XXL / Extra large) is also considered as ‘good design’ and hence remains in higher demand. The individuals buy this car to show off their wealth in respect of volume.
Hence, the real change to avoid obesity needs to take place in social perception of being wealthy. The tendency among parents to overfeed their baby initiates the initial trait of being obese.
News reference: The Hindu, Time of India, India Today