Obesity and Its Links with Diabetes and CVD – The Indian Scenario

India has always given been depicted by the westerners as an under-nourished poverty stricken country But the major health concern for us Indians today and especially the growing middle-classes is obesity and its associated health problems like diabetes mellitus, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, high cholesterol, arthritis and gall bladder disease.

Malnutrition to Obesity

India unfortunately has the distinction of being called the diabetic capital of the world with more than 50 million of its people suffering from diabetes and another 60 million in pre-diabetes state.

Diabetes mellitus and other lifestyle related diseases like metabolic syndrome are becoming pandemic also in populous countries like China. The twenty first century is witnessing a sharp escalation in the prevalence of these diseases, particularly in developing countries. Although, China is reported to have overtaken India recently in terms of this disease, the high rate of diabetics in India is still a major health issue. According to Dr. Vivian Fonseca, a diabetes expert at Tulane, '' Diabetes has soared in many countries around the world – including China and India – mainly because of the larger calorie intake and reduction in physical activity that come with better economies’.

Then again, the World Health Organization data reveals that ‘cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now more prevalent in India and China than in all economically developed countries in the world combined’.

A closer look will reveal that obesity is an indicator of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and gall bladder disease. There is also the fear that this maybe also be linked to a genetic propensity for Indians to develop obesity? So it is time for the health policymakers to be asking if they should consider obesity to be of national concern and how should they tackle this epidemic?


  1. Pandit A. “From Malnutrition unto obesity – The pendulum swings”. Honorary Professor & Director of Pediatrics  Neonatology. KEM Hospital, Pune.
  2. Kaur G and Kalra K. “Epigenetic Risk Factors in Diabetes and The ‘Life Course’ Model” INDIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICAL SPECIALITIES 2010;1(1)46-49
  3. China becomes world's new diabetes capital - (http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/03/24/us-china-diabetes-idUSTRE62N66220100324)
  4. Live a Long and Healthy Life - (http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1140811583642InternationalCVD.pdf)

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