Every Third Indian Is Fat: Study


MUMBAI – India is losing the battle against the bulge, with one in three citizens exceeding their ideal weight. A fatter chunk of these overweight people come from Tier-II cities like Kochi, Ludhiana and Nagpur rather than the metros as believed earlier.

A new 11-city survey across the country not only showed that 36% of the people surveyed above their ideal weight, but also indicated how rapidly the obesity epidemic could progress—23% of the people classified as healthy individuals were on the verge of turning overweight. In other words, their body mass index (BMI) would soon tip over the healthy count of 22.9.

The silver lining was that only 27% of those surveyed in Mumbai were above normal weight—the least among the 11 cities—and 49% of the respondents were within the healthy parameters. On the other hand, a mini metro like Kochi had 46% respondents above normal weight, flagging off a new concern about the smaller cities.

“The survey brings out for the first time that our non-metro cities, too, are affected by obesity. Given the eating-out culture that is becoming popular across the country, this is not surprising,” said surgeon Raman Goel. Around 41% of those surveyed in Ludhiana were over their ideal weight, while 4% respondents in Nagpur were morbidly obese (as against the 2% national average)

Endocrinologist Dr Shashank Joshi, the president of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India, said India’s transition economy was the main reason for obesity. “There is better awareness and, hence, better diagnosis of both obesity and diabetes.” Yet, he believed India was still too malnourished a country to have many morbidly obese people.

On the healthier side, the 15-19 age group recorded an overall obesity level of just 13% in the survey conducted by A C Nielsen for a healthcare company. Worryingly, it’s not only the children who are gaining weight, every second person over 50 years in India is also overweight.

The Nielsen surveyed looked at 5,988 households (22,824 household members) in the listing phase. It finally studied 2,616 people who, on the basis of their BMI, were classified as overweight (1,668), obese (870) or morbidly obese (78).