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Where does India rank in obesity?

Where does India rank in obesity?

, by saikat dutta, 3 min reading time

Where does India rank in obesity?, a nation known for its diverse culinary traditions and vibrant culture, is facing a growing challenge: obesity. While traditionally known for its lean population, the country is experiencing a rapid increase in overweight and obese individuals, raising concerns about public health and economic implications.

India ranks third and fifth from the bottom respectively among countries  where 19-year-old girls and boys have a low Body Mass Index (BMI),  according to a study in The Lancet to be

This blog post delves into the current state of obesity in India, exploring its causes, consequences, and the steps being taken to address this growing concern.

India's Obesity Statistics: A Snapshot

 Childhood obesity: Why are Indian children getting fatter?

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-2021, the prevalence of obesity in India is:

  • Overall: 4.2% of adults are obese, with a higher prevalence among women (5.3%) compared to men (3.1%).
  • Urban vs Rural: Urban areas have a higher prevalence of obesity (5.7%) compared to rural areas (3.1%).
  • Age Groups: Obesity is more prevalent among older adults, with the highest rates observed in the 45-64 years age group.

These statistics reveal a concerning trend, highlighting the need for urgent action to address the rising obesity rates in India.

Factors Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic

Where does India rank in obesity? Several factors contribute to the rising prevalence of obesity in India:

  • Dietary Changes: The shift towards processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat diets, often accompanied by a decline in traditional, nutrient-rich meals, plays a significant role.
  • Sedentary Lifestyles: Increased screen time, reduced physical activity, and reliance on motorized transportation contribute to a decline in physical activity levels.
  • Urbanization: The rapid urbanization in India has led to lifestyle changes, including increased access to fast food and limited opportunities for physical activity.
  • Economic Growth: Rising incomes have led to increased consumption of energy-dense foods, further contributing to weight gain.
  • Genetic Predisposition: While lifestyle factors play a significant role, genetic predisposition can also contribute to obesity.

Consequences of Obesity: A Multifaceted Problem

Where does India rank in obesity? Obesity is not merely an aesthetic concern; it has far-reaching consequences for individuals and society as a whole:

  • Health Risks: Obesity increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
  • Economic Burden: The rising prevalence of obesity puts a significant strain on the healthcare system, leading to increased healthcare costs.
  • Social Stigma: Obesity can lead to social stigma and discrimination, affecting individuals' self-esteem and mental health.
  • Reduced Productivity: Obesity can impact individuals' physical capabilities and work performance, leading to reduced productivity.

Addressing the Obesity Challenge: A Multi-pronged Approach

Tackling the obesity epidemic in India requires a multi-pronged approach involving:

  • Policy Interventions: Implementing policies to promote healthy eating habits, increase physical activity, and regulate the marketing of unhealthy foods.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Raising awareness about the health risks associated with obesity and promoting healthy lifestyle choices through public education campaigns.
  • Community-Based Initiatives: Encouraging community-based programs that promote physical activity, access to healthy food options, and support for healthy weight management.
  • Healthcare Interventions: Providing access to comprehensive healthcare services for obesity management, including nutrition counseling, physical activity guidance, and behavioral therapy.


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