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Obesity: Most Common Yet Most Neglected Health Problem

By Dr. Shankar
| Reviewed By Shankar Kumar

Obesity is one of the most common, yet among the most neglected, public health problems in both developed and developing countries.

Globally, one in six adults is known to be obese and nearly 2.8 million individuals die each year due to being overweight or because of obesity.

The International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) and the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) estimated that 200 million school children are either overweight or obese.

India has the third highest number of obese and overweight people (11% of adolescents and 20% of all adults) after US and China.

A recent study mapping global malnutrition trends has revealed that 2.1 billion people, the highest proportion of the world's obese people (13%), live in the United States.

China and India together represent 15% of the world's obese population. Morbid obesity affects 5% of the Indian population.

Being overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, PCOS, infertility, ED, arthritis and cancer.

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Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, being overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low-income and middle-income countries, particularly in the urban settings.

Internationally, a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 kilogram per metre squared is considered as being overweight.

Due to genetic tendency of Indians towards abdominal obesity (OA) and its associated risk of related lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease, BMI over 23 kilogram per metre squared is considered as being overweight, as per the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (which released the updated guidelines).

In India, the rise in obesity prevalence could be attributed to the increase in urbanisation, use of mechanised transport, increase in the availability of processed and fast foods, increase in television viewing, adoption of less physically active lifestyles and consumption of more "energy-dense, nutrient-poor" diets.

Many studies in India have reported a higher prevalence of obesity among women.


Healthy eating plans like following ketogenic diet for faster weight loss, better satiety, reduction in co-morbid conditions, long-term easy-for-patient methods, meal replacement patient-driven choices, physician-driven advices are the best management methods that have to be adopted.

Physical activity, for example, high-intensity exercises that has more beneficial cardiometabolic protection, regular activities like walking, daily fitness (outdoor and indoor), office-based exercises, etc, should be made a part of your daily routine.

There are limited medications to treat obesity.

Continuous counselling like diet/fitness/screening of co-morbid conditions and psychological reassurance by trained professionals are the keys for a successful weight management programme in those who're suffering from obesity.

Shankar KumarEndocrinologist
M.D.dip MSc Endocrinology-NSW-UK
Shankar Kumar
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