Obesity: An Epidemic Fast Spreading in India

Obesity, as a disease, has spread through the Indian population almost like an epidemic. A paper published last year by the medical journal Lancet says that India ranks 3rd, behind only USA and China, in the list of countries with the highest number of people afflicted by obesity. To put things in perspective, it is worth noting that one in every five Indian is either overweight or suffers from full-fledged obesity.

Another point of deep concern is the demographic trend in the spread of obesity in India. Contrary to intuition, obesity has been affecting not just adults or older people but younger people too, even teenagers.

What Leads To Obesity

Obesity doesn’t happen overnight. It develops gradually over time, as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices.It manifests in different ways depending on an individual’s age, sex,and general health. Sometimes it may also be genetic;statistics state that people who have the FTO gene variant in their bloodstream tend to eat more than usual, which leads to obesity. Also, it is difficult for these obese people to lose weight without proper therapy and medical help.

Generally speaking, obesity occurs when a person has too much fat stored in his/her body. This extra fat is a result of consuming more calories than you can burn. Our body consumes calories for a variety of purposes. But, not all the calories that we receive through our diet get consumed. Some of these calories get stored in the body in the form of fat. When our intake of calories becomes significantly more than our consumption, all the excess calories get converted into excess fat, and this eventually leads to obesity.

Body Mass Index

The Body Mass Index

The BMI, or the Body Mass Index, is the parameter used to define and categorize obesity.  According to the World Health Organization(WHO), a BMI value in the range of 18.5 – 24.9 is considered safe and normal. With a BMI in the range of 25.0 – 29.9, a person is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 and beyond puts one into the category of obese.  For Indians though, the BMI limit for obesity has been reset to 25.

Obesity – Contributing Factors

Few factors that contribute to obesity are outlined below:

  1. Unhealthy eating habits: In a busy world where people don’t even have time to cook their meals, diet of modern population includes junk food and eatables that are laden with trans-fats, sugar, starch,and These food items may be great in taste and easy on your pocket, but they definitely are lethal for your health.
  2. Lack of physical activity: Advancement in digital technology has lead to people living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle.Food rich in calories directly promotes weight gain if it is accompanied by insufficient physical exercise.
  3. Lack of sound sleep: Sleep deprivation leads to elevation of cortisol which is also known as stress hormone,causing stress which in turn contributes to obesity.Inadequate sleepleads your body to produce less amounts of a hormone (leptin) which increases appetite.
  4. Medication: Certain drugs also lead to obesity. People, who may be under some medication may experience rapid weight gain.
  5. Obesity genes: Genetics too, can be a contributing factor for obesity. High cholesterol, Diabetes, and high blood pressure are some obesity-related

Fighting Obesity – What the Experts Say

Various experts have suggested a number of ways to keep obesity at bay. Dr. Sameer recommends 60 minutes of physical activity each day to steer clear of obesity. Along with this, a change in the workout pattern every 2 weeks works wonders, he adds. He also suggests Yoga as quite an effective way to achieve flexibility and control over the body.

A well-balanced diet is also crucial in this context. Different people have different nutrient requirements; hence, diets should be planned in accordance with individual’s needs. Smaller meals at frequent intervals should be preferred over bigger but fewer meals. It is suggested that a healthy breakfast is very effective in reducing obesity.

Leave Obesity Behind

By making certain changes in your lifestyle like balancing the diet, physical activity level, water intake and sleeping pattern, one can easily overcome obesity.

Here are some healthy tips you can inculcate in your diet plan:

  • Eat more fiber: Dietary fiber helps in relieving constipation and maintaining a healthy weight. Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, green beans,and potatoes are some fiber-rich foods you can add in your meal plan.
  • Cut back on sugar:Sugar increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and other chronic conditions; avoiding sweetened beverages and sugary snacks will help you stay healthy. Honey is a healthy alternative for sugar you can use instead.
  • Eat lots of vegetables: Vegetables are excellent sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid), and vitamins A, E, and Eating veggies will boost your immunity and flush out toxins from your body.
  • Eat home-made food: Most of the junk food is high on trans fats which is a major contributor to obesity. Eating home-cooked meal will not only save your money but also assure that the food you are eating is hygienic and of good quality.
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