Obesity (fatness) is a common problem now emerging in India. 20 million Indians are obese and by 2025 this number is expected to rise upto 68 million. It is generally believed that in India only under nutrition is rampant and obesity is a rare occurrence. This is far from truth, as in the year 2000 national survey showed that 25% men and 36% women above 20 years of age were overweight.
Obesity has a tremendous medical, social and economic impact on individuals and society as a whole. The prevalence of this chronic disease is likely to rise further unless concerted efforts are made at individual, social, environmental levels to treat and prevent obesity. Quacks take advantage of this and try to steer away people from legitimate medical treatment.
Everybody believes that dieting means starvation and exercise is the only solution for obesity not realizing that strenous exercise may damage the heart and the weight bearing joints which are already overburdened in an obese individual. For it is calculated that 14 kg’s extra weight doubles the load on the heart and the body. The most important way to treat a global epidemic of obesity is to introduce lifestyle modifications.
Our lifestyles have changed drastically during the last few decades. We are consuming more and more junk food, chocolates, sweets and soft drinks. Fast food restaurants have taken over our lives. In addition we are relying on technology such as cars, elevators and other methods that prevent us from moving. This increase in energy intake and reduction in activity levels leads to major rise in the number of overweight and obese people.
Overweight is caused by an imbalance in energy intake and energy expenditure leading to an increase in body weight which includes fat bone and muscle. Obesity on the other hand is defined as an excess of body fat. Not only is obesity a result of an energy imbalance but other lifestyle, psychological and social factors have a major role to play as well.