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Is Obesity really becoming an epidemic in India?

The second half of the twentieth century noticed a health transition in which world, which propelled due to various socio-economic and technological changes. These changes unprecedentedly altered the life expectancy rate which creating a need for exceptional human capacity to use medical sciences in order to prolong or enhance life.
Various lifestyle changes and dietary deficit accompanied with urbanization and industrialization contribute invasively to rising burden of obesity and non-communicable diseases.
Defined as a disease thirty years ago, the WHO listed obesity as a disease condition in its International Classification of Diseases in 1979. This epidemic of rapid nutrition transition with its adverse health effects is now getting noticed in the Asian regions. The economic and health consequences of obesity epidemic can spell a disaster for the nation unless immediate remedial methods are incorporated.
Leading causes of Obesity Epidemic in India
The roots of this epidemic are urbanization, industrialization and rapid changes in the lifestyle especially the rich and urban category that have urbanized to western levels. Moreover, the easy accessibility to unhealthy and processed foods followed by India’s continuous integration into global food markets, are some of the leading causes of this epidemic.
Various researches also suggest that Indians are genetically susceptible to weight accumulation around the waist area.
Other important components of lifestyle changes include:
Wrong choice of food & Unhealthy eating pattern
All celebrations and festivals in India are centered around rich foods. Traditional micronutrients are getting replaced with energy dense highly processed micronutrients that are addictive and commanding your brain, ‘Dil Mange More.’ Other food items such as Junk food, snacks and cool cola are all part of new lifestyle.
Sedentary Pursuit
There has been a drastic change in the lives of children when compared to a few years back. Activities such as movie/TV watching, long telephonic gossips, internet surfing play an important role in their life. There has been a decrease in the percentage of physical activities that a child participates in, while all these sedentary pursuits restricting the development of children
Obesogenic Schools
One of the most important factors leading to obesity in India is the intense competition in schools and colleges which flourishes kids with tuition classes right from nursery level. In most of the cases, children are forced to use their play time for additional studies, restricting their physical development time, which then leads to obesity.

Ways to Manage Obesity
Prevalence of Obesity is increasing rapidly in developed as well as developing nations. It is considered to be an independent risk factor for increased mortality and associated with the risk of multiple health issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases etc.
Lifestyle Management
This is an essential aspect of obesity management as patients learn how and when energy is consumed, expended and how to incorporate this information into their daily life. There are 3 essential elements under this category: Dietary habits, behaviour modification and physical activity.
Weight loss surgery
This is an option for weight reduction in patients with clinically severe obesity i.e. patients with a BMI >40 or BMI >35 with comorbid conditions.
Bariatric surgery option is usually reserved for patients with whom other methods of treatment have failed or people with clinically severe obesity.
The advantage of Bariatric surgical procedures is that they reduce the calorie intake by modifying the anatomy of gastrointestinal tract. However, lifelong medical monitoring after surgery is a necessity.

Rise and effect of obesity threatens to bankrupt the healthcare systems. Early treatment and prevention offers multiple long term health benefits, which are the only way towards sustainable health service.

Posted 30 Oct, 2015