Obesity kills more people than AIDS and is emerging as a serious threat, said health experts here Friday.

Dr. Shashank Joshi, president of the governing council of the All India Association of Advanced Research in Obesity (AIAARO), said obesity was not a new problem in India.

Speaking on Obesity in 2011, on the first day of the two-day national conference, the expert said that obesity was described in the ancient Indian texts such as the ‘Charak Samhita’. The health condition was emerging as a serious threat with 24 million people in India being obese.

“The Indian population is at a special risk because of the tendency to develop central obesity. The ‘thin fat Asian Indian phenotype’ is now well established,” said Dr. Joshi adding that Indians had a higher proportion of fat in their body composition and more so in the abdominal area.

“Obesity kills more people than AIDS and often underlines problems such as diabetes and heart diseases. It is also associated with accelerated ageing,” he added.

Listing sedentary lifestyle, watching of too much TV, use of internet and other gadgets of comfort as contributing factors in the rise of obesity among Indian children, Dr. Joshi underlined the need for taking proper nutrition, brisk walks, proper yogic practices and de-stressing as ways in managing obesity.

Focusing on obesity as “the emerging Indian epidemic”, the inaugural session was opened by Parimal Trivedi, Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University, and Mrunalini Devi Puar, of the Maharaja Sayajirao University.

Speaking on the occasion, Parimal Trivedi said that case studies in obesity needed to focus on age, food habits, lifestyle and human behaviour too. Mrunalini Puar emphasized on the need to interlink nutrition and obesity and said that nutrition along with yogic practices should be made the mainstay in controlling obesity.