About 80 percent of urban Indian working women in the 25-45 age group are fat because of sedentary lifestyle and changing food habits, a survey by a health organisation has revealed.
"Most of the women who were obese said they were overweight because of sedentary lifestyle, lack of time to walk or exercise due to work pressure, and not having healthy food," Heal Foundation president R. Shankar told IANS here.
The survey report "Rising Workplace Obesity among Indian Women" -- by Healthji.com in association with Leisa's Secret, a firm that sells weight loss products -- covered about 2,000 working women across Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
"Obesity could also affect the mind, and cause symptoms like insomnia, depression and self-pity," Shankar said, citing responses of obese women during the survey.
A majority of the women working in the information technology (IT) and biotechnology (BT) sectors gain weight as they spend 10-12 hours sitting at their terminals (computers) in a controlled environment.
"Most of the 'knowledge workers' admitted during the survey that their walks were confined to going to a restroom or fetching coffee, tea or snacks from the office pantry or cafeteria. Their work poses a hazard to their health," Shankar said.
Although many of the fat women expressed satisfaction over their careers and salaries, they were conscious of their appearance.
"Grappling with weight management could pose psychological problems and affect not only eating habits but also lead to depression. Long-term stress influences hormones, which control appetite and stimulate metabolism, resulting in insulin release and hunger for more food," chief psychiatrist Neelesh Tiwari of the New Delhi-based World Brain Centre said.
"Married working women who are also homemakers are under even greater stress as they have no time to include exercise in their daily routine. Their own health is unfortunately not a priority for these women," Shankar said.
Interestingly, unlike their men counterparts, women knowledge workers, single or married, do not make use of the gym or other health facilities that many tech firms provide in their campuses for paucity of time, deadline pressures at work, and the rush to return home to finish domestic chores.
According to chief executive Amit Srivastava of Rapid Nutrition, an Australia-based firm that offers comprehensive weight loss programmes, middle-aged working women are prone to debilitating disorders as the weight loss patterns are not sustainable in the long run unless they give up sedentary lifestyle, resort to walks and exercise for at least 30 minutes daily and change their food habits, especially eating junk food.
"A multi-pronged approach to increase basal metabolic rate, resist hunger and produce calorie deficit with essential micro-nutrients can help reduce weight and regain a body that is slim, light and active," claimed Simon St Ledger, managing director, Rapid Nutrition.