Obesity is becoming a big health issue for countries like India despite the fact that millions of people are sleeping hungry at night; millions of infants are grossly under-nourished and under-weight. According to a recent health report, third highest number of obese and overweight people lives in India. 11% adolescent and 20% adults are suffering from obesity. Women are double in number than men in our country on this count.
Obesity among children has equally been a serious cause of concern. Kirsten Gillibrand puts it in these words, “Obesity puts our children at risk of developing serious diseases - such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. It keeps our children from performing their best at school.”
The probability of obese children becoming an obese adult is undoubtedly high as the childhood eating and living habits do continue in later years in most of the cases. More than one medical study vindicates this fact.
Interestingly, it is all knowing that obesity is directly related to presence of excess fat in the body and it often results from consumption of carbohydrate and fat in excess of what is required for keeping the body healthy and going. In other words, taking more calories than normally required and also failing to burn excess calories by exercise and other daily physical activities gradually make us over-weight.
Before moving forward to discuss this issue which is spreading like an epidemic in Indian society, it is pertinent to know at the outset what the obesity is all about.
Simply speaking, if a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is 25% or more, the person is termed as obese. To explain it further, people are generally considered obese when their Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight in kilogram by the square of the person's height in meter, is more than 25 kg/ m2. In other words, if a person is 1.83 meter (6 feet) in height and less than 84 kg in weight, he is not over-weight or the person is within the standard BMI range.
Needless to emphasise that an overweight person is more prone to falling prey to many health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, joint pain, respiratory ailments, sleep and stress related problems - to name a few. Besides these avoidable diseases, the obese persons are generally found to have low self-esteem, feeling of social isolation, emotional weakness etc. It is also found that obese persons are finding it difficult to enjoy their sex life as well as conjugal life well for more than one reason. It affects their domestic harmony significantly. Finally, this leads to separation and divorce in a number of cases.
Conversely, remaining physically active, slim and strong has several health benefits - the blood circulates more efficiently, the fluid level in the body is easily managed, chances of developing any major health problem including the ones enumerated here-in-above is comparatively lesser. The person is able to enjoy life more and is also better placed to enhance his productivity at work place.
Interestingly, the problem of obesity is growing at a rapid pace mainly among the people who are not poor but are inadequately health conscious.
Some of the major causes of being obese or overweight are as under:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Physical inactivity
- Bad dietary habit. Regularly eating fast food/junk food
- Regular consumption of more oily/salty/sugary items even at home
- Regular unregulated consumption of alcohol and soft drink
- Stressful life in home and/or at workplace
- Hormone imbalance, particularly in case of women
- Genetic reasons in some cases
The question now is how to address this growing health problem on a sustainable basis (without formal medical intervention including surgery) in countries like India?
Yes, we can take care of this issue by adopting two separate prescriptions – first for those who are already obese and second for those who are very likely to be obese. Undeniably, for both the group of people, “Awareness is half the solution” principle must be followed in all possible manners.
To say, awareness campaigns to be undertaken in a focused manner in schools, colleges, corporate entities, training institutes, coaching centres etc. The deliberation and discussion should be centred on advantages of healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, natural ways for maintaining/controlling weight.
Notwithstanding the fact that for some years now the concept of imposing “Fat Tax” on junk food has been a reality in countries like Hungary and Denmark, it is quite interesting to know that Japan was the first country to levy “Fat Tax” to highlight the campaign against obesity. In India, the state of Kerala recently introduced 14.5% “Fat Tax” on Pizza, Burger and other junk food to be served in restaurants. It is not without reason as Kerala comes second in having the highest percentage of obese people after Punjab.
For over-weight persons, it is absolutely necessary to review their current lifestyle to know exactly well, where to effect correction and how to do it in a sustainable basis so that weight loss takes place gradually without any major setback in their energy level and professional productivity. For this to happen reasonably well, it is better to follow these recommendations:
- Start eating fewer calories by increasing green vegetables and fruits intake. Avoid non-vegetarian spicy food items, particularly at night.
- Stop taking junk, processed and preserved food. Eating home-made food is always better.
- Drastically cut down on sugary drinks and beverages.
- Increase level of burn out significantly by physical exercises/activities.
- Take your breakfast well. Lunch should be lighter and dinner the lightest.
- Sleep early in the night and get up early in the morning.
- Drink water adequately and properly. Drinking lukewarm water is better.
- Minimise, if you can’t stop, consumption of alcohol.
- Practice yoga and meditation sincerely on regular basis.
For those, who are very likely to be obese or those who want to remain slim and strong for longer time, it is necessary to adopt a lifestyle where you can eat healthy, sleep well and also engage yourself in certain physical exercise/activities for minimum 30-40 minutes at least five days a week. Avoiding junk food, sugary drinks and consumption of alcohol can’t be overstressed. Remaining calm, cool and happy by managing your stress can make you avoid being obese. Yes, shunning excessive dependence on modern gadgets like smart phone, laptop etc. helps in many ways.
Before signing off, here is one point of caution for over-enthusiasts, particularly students and young professionals. Never ever jump to any conclusion and switch over to a new routine without giving a serious thought to the whole issue, more so if you are undergoing some medical treatment. Have thorough consultation with your doctor on the subject.
To say the least, if we become genuinely health conscious and start living our life accordingly, we need not be afraid of obesity.
Milan Sinha has worked in senior positions in financial sector for three decades following three years of active writing in various newspapers and magazines. He is a post graduate in Chemistry from Patna University and also a graduate with Economics.
Presently, besides being a freelance writer / a regular contributor to newspapers & magazines, also engaged as a Stress Management, Lifestyle Management & Wellness consultant, Motivational Speaker and Awareness campaigner.