Obesity can trigger hypertension, diabetes: Eat right and workout to ditch the silent killer

by health and nutrition advice journalist
Dr Sridar Govindaraj

is a pandemic disease and is one of the primary causes of preventable death. About 13-15% of the world’s population — a large number — is .

To know if you are obese, calculate your body mass index (BMI) by dividing your weight in kg by your height in metres squared. For Indians, over 25 is critical. Among Asians and Indians, central obesity, that is, excessive fat around the waist is common. Waist size greater than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men should ring an alarm bell.

Calculate your BMI here


The health implications of obesity on various organs of the body is enormous. Obesity is a silent killer. The term metabolic syndrome, which includes central obesity, , diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia, is a major health issue. It was considered a disease of the affluent and the western society, but no longer is this true. Also, the myth about it being an urban problem holds no ground. The ICMR data of October 2017 states that 8.7% of the Indian population is obese, which amounts to 70 million. India also has been reported to have the secondlargest obese child population in the world. So, it is an issue which is going to stay and grow unless we as a society along with planners and the medical fraternity take steps to prevent a crisis.


Obesity results due to wrong choice of food in terms of calories/quantity/timing, and lack of activity. It’s a simple logic of input versus output mismatch. However, even if this mismatch is small on a day-to-day basis, in the long run, this small amount adds up to a large number.

Till date, the standard recommended calorie intake for an individual was 2,000 calories per day. But recent studies have shown that, for the Indian population, it is 1,800 cals/day.

Calculate your BMR here

Obesity needs a multidisciplinaryteam approach to be dealt with. Guidance from a nutritionist and a physical trainer for lifestyle management is necessary. In other words, managing diet and physical activity go handin-hand in treatment. This may be a standalone approach if patients are overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9) or mildly obese (BMI 30-34.9).

Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes, occurs mostly in people who are overweight or obese.

If the obesity seems to be unmanageable, patients can approach a professional doctor for medication. A few medicines are available in India, but not all are effective. If the person has developed conditions such as or hypertension, these need to be treated appropriately too.

The mental state of obese people forces them to binge-eat, and they feel happy after that. If this is the case, it is important to consult a counsellor.

Conventional treatment measures will not help if someone has become superobese or has developed a serious medical issue. In that case, surgical intervention is the only option. But surgery comes with its own risks — It involves reduction in the size of the stomach so as to restrict food intake and, secondly, a controlled malabsorption state. The patient has to be counselled regarding this during the workup.

High alert! 25% of the world's population will turn obese by 2045

The first step is to eat a healthy balanced diet. Minimise carbs under professional guidance and have the right number of calories each day. A nutritionist can chart out a plan with more protein, less carbs and fat. Exercising in the form of walking or jogging for 30 minutes every day will help. This will take care of the input vs output formula to avoid or even treat early obesity.

People from a young age must be encouraged to participate in physical activities.

By preventing obesity, a huge amount of money that goes into treating metabolic syndrome can be saved.

Interestingly, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed that hotels must display the calorie count against their food items so that customers can make healthy choices.

In obesity too, prevention is surely better than cure.

(The writer is Professor of Surgery at St John’s Medical College Hospital, Bengaluru)

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This content was originally published here.

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