THE RISING OBESITY EPIDEMIC IN INDIAN URBAN AREAS – Causes, Impact, and Solutions:
Over the last 2 decades, a rising urban obesity epidemic was observed in several studies done in India. These showed that the prevalence of obesity was higher among elder people, particularly those with higher education, those from urban areas, those from non-poor households, and women. This article will guide you through the underlying reasons for obesity in urban areas, the prevalence of obesity in women, ways to prevent it, and the importance of addressing its associated health complications with the best diabetologists in Chennai.
Why is obesity more prevalent in urban areas?
The incidence of obesity in urban areas was most likely to be because of the nutritional transition with the shift from traditional diets and lifestyles to Western diets, which are characterized by high intake of saturated fats, sugar, and refined foods.
Meanwhile, reduced levels of physical activity, improved transport facilities, and increased stress, particularly in the rapidly growing urban populations contribute to obesity prevalence.
Furthermore, a significant positive correlation has been observed between better economic status and the composition of the diet consumed.
People from economically better-off families are more likely to adopt a sedentary lifestyle and consume energy-dense food. In addition, reduced physical activity at work due to mechanization, improved motorized transport, and preferences of viewing television/gadgets for a longer duration have resulted in positive energy balance in people in most urban areas.
Is obesity more prevalent in men or women in India?
The prevalence of obesity in Indian women was 23%, compared to 20% in Indian men. The risk of obesity in women is higher beyond the age of 35yrs as physical activity, metabolic rate, and energy requirements decrease in women during this period. Studies have shown that media exposure, parity (number of children), higher education, and higher economic status are positively correlated with obesity, as it has been observed that these factors contribute directly or indirectly to reduced levels of physical activity and hence a sedentary lifestyle.
What is the impact of obesity in women?
Obesity continues to be the significant risk factor for metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke), sleep apnea, and dyslipidemia, irrespective of gender – in both men and women.
However, in women specifically, it increases the risk of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), postmenopausal breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. In terms of reproductive health, obesity negatively affects fertility as well as contraception. Obesity is associated with higher rates of pregnancy complications.
While, in terms of mental health, obesity is closely linked to depression, anxiety disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and sleep disorders.
What is the impact of a Vegetarian vs Non-Vegetarian diet on obesity?
Vegetarians largely consume a plant-based diet, and non-vegetarians consume an animal-based diet. An Indian study done on bariatric surgery detected an interesting observation that more vegetarians required bariatric surgery for morbid obesity as compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts, and this observation was significant among the females.
This was, however, in striking contrast to the observations put forth by Western studies, which found an association between vegetarianism and obesity. The “Indian paradox” (vegetarian diet in women and obesity) could be attributable to higher rates of consumption of unhealthy snacks and fried or processed foods as compared to their Indian non-vegetarian and Western vegetarian counterparts. Processed foods are rich in trans fats, which directly increase metabolic risk by promoting an atherogenic lipid profile and hence increasing the risk of obesity.
What can we do to prevent obesity?
It is essential to adhere to a healthy balanced diet, but in patients who are obese or overweight, it is of utmost importance to reduce the consumption of saturated fats, trans fats, and carbohydrates. This roughly translates to a diet that is vastly rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts and is free of fried and processed foods and unhealthy snacks.
It is also essential to maintain optimal weight (BMI less than 25), and the American Heart Association describes the optimal level of physical activity as moderate intensity for 150 minutes a week. It is optimal to be able to achieve 10,000 steps a day. For individuals with obesity, the level of physical activity must be increased slowly & steadily. And, this needs to be maintained consistently in order to achieve optimal weight by reducing it.
Psychosocial support from family and friends is essential to staying motivated with dietary and lifestyle restrictions while trying to achieve weight loss. Being a part of a group of people, all of whom are striving for weight loss, helps in improving adherence with lifestyle and dietary modifications, as the different participants in the group can motivate each other and themselves, resulting in better outcomes.
Dr. Mehta’s experts are here to assist you,
In addition to these recommendations, choosing the best multispeciality hospital in Chennai is paramount for obesity management due to its comprehensive expertise, with a diverse team of medical professionals including internal medicine physicians, dietitians, obstetricians & gynaecologists, and others.
Consult with Dr. Mehta’s experts for a personalized treatment.
Keep in mind to monitor your BMI at least once a year, as this will help determine your overall health status and the necessary treatment options.
Remember, taking proactive steps towards a healthier life today can significantly impact your future health and overall quality of life.