A silent killer: 57% adult women, 42% adult men physically unfit in India, reveals Lancet

The primary reasons for obesity include physical inactivity, abnormal food habits, an increase in desk jobs, and higher screen time

By Neelambaran A  Published on  10 July 2024 2:25 AM GMT
A silent killer:  57% adult women, 42% adult men physically unfit in India, reveals Lancet

Hyderabad: India is ranked 12th among 195 countries for the highest prevalence of insufficient physical activity. Around 57% of adult women and 42% of adult men were found to be physically unfit by a Lancet study.

The primary reasons for obesity include physical inactivity, abnormal food habits, an increase in desk jobs, and higher screen time. Insufficient physical activity results in obesity and metabolic syndrome leading to cardiovascular diseases and increased heart attacks.

Earlier obesity was high among the rural population, particularly among those in the higher socio-economic strata but now the condition is of high prevalence among the rural population as well.

Inactivity doubled in 22 years

As per the study, the percentage of inactivity among adults has more than doubled (49.4%) in comparison with 2000 (22.3%). If this remains unchecked, by the end of 2030, almost 60% of the Indian adult population will become unfit.

Abdominal obesity and consequences

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death in India and are considered an epidemic. As of 2017, 26.6% of deaths and 13.6% of disability-adjusted life years (DALY) were due to CVD.

Dr L Kiran Kumar Reddy, interventional cardiologist at Onus Hospital, Hyderabad said, “Obesity, particularly abdominal obesity is increasing the risk among the youth population. It is also associated with prediabetes and diabetes, hypertension, and abnormal cholesterol”.

Further, the economic losses for India due to CVD between 2012 and 2030 were estimated by the World economic forum and Harvard University as $2.17 trillion.

Indians at higher risk due to obesity

As per studies, Indians are found to be at higher risk than people from other countries, with higher risk burden, early age of onset, higher premature deaths, and higher case fatality.

“A considerable number of youths are working for 8-9 hours at their desks. They remain indoors after reaching home, glued to the television and mobile screens. Increased consumption of processed food and lack of healthy dietary practices are other reasons for obesity”, Dr Kiran Kuar said.

Hormone reduction affects women

Abdominal obesity among women increases with age, due to the reduced generation of Estrogen hormone. The study also reveals the prevalence of obesity among rural women as well.

Dr Aarathi Bellary, consultant Internal medicine at KIMS Hospital, Kondapur said, “Almost 50% of women in the 30 to 49 age group are obese and the obesity increases with age. The hormone generation reduces for women in menopause and postmenopause resulting in higher obesity”.

The physical activity of the population has reduced post the COVID-19 pandemic, further increasing the probability of people becoming obese.

“The number of people going out and working out has reduced after COVID-19. But even before COVID. Obesity has been prevailing among the urban rich”, Dr Aarathi said.

Physical activity can help reduce obesity

With obesity among children increasing, the experts call for increased caution oaboutconsuming ultra-processed food items, remaining indoors, and increasing screen time.

“Working out elevates your mood, improves general well-being, and helps in controlling sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol”, Dr. Kiran Kumar said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Heart Institute recommend 150 to 300 minutes of moderate acrobatic activity per week. Brisk walking, biking at slow speed, water aerobics, and gardening are a few moderate activities while hiking, running, jumping ropes and swimming laps are a few vigorous exercises.

The experts also urged the governments to initiate measures to create awareness about the dangers of obesity for a healthy society.

Next Story