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Anti–Obesity Day 2009 - Cut Flab and Stay Fit

by VR Sreeraman on  November 25, 2009 at 2:42 PM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Anti-Obesity Day is observed all over India on November 26th, 2009. The initiative seeks to spread the word about the dangers of obesity and the steps to take to cut the flab and stay fit.
This day assumes importance in the wake of the obesity statistics which shows 17 % of the young in the age group of 14-18 in India are overweight or obese. They add to the burden of overall obesity figures in India standing at a mammoth 70 million. What makes it worse is that South Asians are genetically more prone to heart disease and diabetes due obesity. Further, Indians are genetically prone to accumulation of weight around the waist, a sure health risk.

Elaborating on the enormity of the problem Pav Kalsi, care adviser at Diabetes-UK said, "We know that T-2 diabetes, which is linked to being overweight, is up to six times more common in South Asian people than the white population."

Growing Menace

A person is medically termed obese when the body weight is 20% more than the normal weight.  Body Mass Index, the measure of obesity, is calculated using the ratio of weight and height.

Standards used worldwide to measure obesity are based on data from Whites. According to this standard, a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) still retains these cut off points for overweight and obese standards, it recognizes the need to develop different cut off points for different ethnic groups throughout the world.

Recently, the BMI limits have been lowered in India for better accuracy and also to avert health risks of obesity by getting more people into the fold- now, a BMI of 23 denotes overweight and a BMI of 25 and above denotes obesity.

Health Risks of Obesity

Obesity has been linked to at least 53 diseases. Not surprising, as overweight and obesity are known to impact blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin resistance of the body, negatively. The health risks of obesity can cost life and hence tackling obesity needs serious attention.

An abnormally high BMI increases the risk of breast cancer, cancer of the colon, prostrate, kidney and gall bladder. Thus, obesity is the leading cause of premature death due to its association with chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and Type 2 Diabetes.  

• Type 2 diabetes and obesity are liked directly. Studies have shown close to 85% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.
• Obesity significantly elevates the risk of heart disease and heart attack if one is 20% overweight. .
• Obese women aged 50 and above carry an elevated risk of hypothyroidism, a disorder of the endocrine system which can trigger further weight gain and a host of other problems.
• Gallstones are another major problem for the obese and for obese women the risk is more pronounced.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined some of the health risks of obesity. They are:

  • High blood cholesterol, dyslipidemia
  • Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cholescystitis and cholelithiasis
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Some types of cancer (such as endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon)
  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Poor female reproductive health (such as menstrual irregularities, infertility, irregular ovulation)
  • Bladder control problems (such as stress incontinence)
  • Psychological disorders (such as depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, and low self- esteem)
Bell the Fat

A multi-pronged strategy for effective weight management and prevention of chronic diseases is crucial for those groups at risk. A healthy lifestyle with a proper diet and exercise is the only secret to maintaining optimum weight.

The prevention strategies will include a weight loss programme followed by a weight maintenance programme. The weight loss programme will combine the benefits of rigorous physical activity and a healthy diet regimen designed to knock off the additional weight in a stipulated timeframe.

Obesity which opens the Pandora's box of chronic diseases can be prevented with just a few healthy steps:

1. Eat a balanced diet rich in proteins, vegetables and fruits. Including more fiber and less fat will do the trick, experts say. Cut down on snacks, bakery products and fast foods laden with trans fat.  

2. Stay active. Engage in a 30 minute physical activity with a good pace of exercise preferably 4-5 times a week.  

3. Monitor weight regularly.

Notwithstanding personal efforts, it is also imperative that the policymakers in India chip in to regulate the entry of harmful foods. Increasing the taxes of foods saturated with sugar and trans fats while reducing the cost of vegetables and fruits may be the way to go for a leaner, fitter and healthier India.

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Source: Medindia
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