Call for concerted effort to fight this lifestyle disease

Obesity has a negative impact on health, body, and mind with increasing ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases. In India, 36 per cent of population are overweight, three crore people are frankly obese, and 70 per cent urban youth are overweight, according to T. Narayana Rao, professor of surgery in Andhra Medical College and chief of Surgical Unit of King George Hospital.

This issue is alarming and assuming epidemic proportions with the possibility of 50 per cent of Indian population likely to become overweight.

“The problem with obesity or overweight is that it is likely to lead to chronic diseases affecting heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and bones. The increased morbidity is likely to have economic consequences,” Dr. Narayana Rao says.

Obesity is a problem of the affluent. It was a health issue in rich countries. Now, it is becoming a concern in India, mainly due to change in lifestyle and liberalisation of food imports and junk food.

The changed lifestyle has drawn people to fast foods with high calorific content and which contains trans fat, sugars, and unhealthy artificial ingredients. This, combined with absence of proper exercise due to busy schedules and increased use of alcohol and drugs, is playing a major role in weight gain, he says.

It requires concerted effort on the part of the people to fight this lifestyle disease. The best remedy for obesity is prevention. One needs to eat good and healthy food with low carbohydrate content or less calorific value, less fat and with more protein. People should increase the consumption of fruits and salads and green leafy vegetables.

Further, a minimum of 30 minutes exercise or brisk walking will burn the excess calories and stop their accumulation. There is a need to reduce stress. Proper relaxation would not only reduce stress but also reduce food intake, Dr. Narayana Rao says.

Avoidable food items

He says foods like pretzels, potato chips, candies, samosas, pastries, burgers, chocolates, and ice creams should be avoided.

At the social level, the government and authorities should increase awareness among general public on risks associated with obesity. The government should take steps to impose a ban on high calorific foods and carbonated cool drinks in schools and work places. This may go a long way to stop obesity from becoming an epidemic.

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