‘Obesity, a big challenge for the economic progress of India’

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Hyderabad, March 4 (IANS) For some, being called obese might mean not looking good. But obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It is a health concern that increases the risk of other diseases, such as heart ailments, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers.

March 4 is commemorated at World Obesity Day. Since 2015, the World Obesity Day was initiated as an annual campaign with the objective of stimulating actions and supporting practical or possible solutions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The ultimate objective of this effort is to strive towards achieving a reversal of the global obesity crisis.

IANS spoke to few healthcare professionals from Hyderabad to understand the seriousness of the problem.

Healthcare professionals say it is important to revisit the financial implications of obesity on our society. While the direct medical costs may just include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services, there are certain indirect costs related to sickness, lost productivity, and even death. Productivity measures include employees being absent from work for obesity-related health reasons, decreased productivity while at work, disability and even premature death, all add to this burden.

“Being overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver disease. Obesity is also associated with some cancers, including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon,” said, Dr. G. Parthasarathy, Sr. Consultant, Surgical Gastroenterology, Laparoscopic & Hepato-Pancreaticobiliary Surgery, KIMS Hospitals, Secunderabad.

“Obesity is defined as a body mass index is greater than or equal to 27.5kg/m2 in the Asian population. Southern India (46.51 per cent) shows the highest prevalence, while eastern India shows the lowest (32.96 per cent). Weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery) is one of the choice today that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures, such as diet, exercise, and medicine have failed,” he said.

Commenting on obesity and its financial implications, Dr. Kishore B. Reddy, Managing Director, Amor Hospital said “Obesity is a fast-rising problem among the people in India. Modernisation and urbanisation of our societies has brought in some undesired changes into our lives. We see more and more people today consume energy-rich and fat-rich foods; but there is a significant reduction in the physical activities. This is leading to people adding weight, which has significant financial implications too! Obese individuals and families tend to spend more not just on their healthcare, but also for certain simple needs like transportation.

“An obese person or families are forced to spend money on personal modes of transportation even if their economic condition do not permit. Similarly, there are many aspects which increase the average living cost of obese people in comparison to non-obese individuals.”

“According to the World Bank, many low- and middle-income countries, like India, are burdened by high prevalence of both undernutrition and obesity. Easy accessibility of junk foods and packaged foods has increased the risk of obesity even among the economically weaker sections of the society, especially in the urban parts of India. While eating such food is fanciful among the modern generations, it is important people are made aware of the ill-effects of regular consumption,” added Dr Padmanabha Varma, Sr consultant Endocrinology – Thyroid and Hormones Super Specialist, SLG Hospitals.

“Investing into childhood nutrition, improving urban infrastructure by adding cycling and running tracks, mandating physical activities at schools, among others, are some of the positive interventions Governments can make to ensure that the obesity burden is reduced in our society, said Dr Hemanth Kaukuntla, Vice-Chairman, Century Hospital.

To avoid the rise of obesity in future generations, governments and development partners must adopt a comprehensive approach, which includes a strong focus on preventative measures. Obesity among children is a major cause for concern because it leads to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, in addition to this leading to social problems such as bullying and stigma. Hence, it is important that efforts are made to address the root cause of this problem,” Kaukuntla concluded.



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