Life in the hills typically keeps the body active, but that has not stopped people in Uttarakhand to be overweight. In fact, the rugged state has reported the highest percentage of obese population in the 18-59 age group in a recent study across nine states upcountry.
The percentage of overweight population (body mass index equal to or greater than 25) in the age group is highest in Uttarakhand at 21.6%, while Chhattisgarh reported the lowest at 6.3%, according to the survey conducted for 2014 on a sub-sample of the Annual Health Survey in all empowered action group (EAG) states as well as Assam.
The EAG comprises eight socioeconomically backward states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh that have lagged behind on certain health indicators such as population and infant mortality.
According to the initiative under the Clinical, Anthropometric and Biochemical (CAB) Survey-Part II, recently released by the Census of India office, Uttarakhand topped the percentage of obese persons (body mass index equal to or greater than 30) at 4.7%. Bihar reported the lowest percentage of obese population at 0.6%.
Uttarakhand also has the highest prevalence of overweight and obese population among both males and females in the 18-59 years age bracket, according to the results that form a part of the Annual Health Survey Report that takes into account Assam as well.
Among the 284 districts studied, Dehradun of Uttarakhand was found to have the highest prevalence of overweight outcomes (at 28.1%), while Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh had its lowest prevalence (0.9%).
On the other hand, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital districts of Uttarakhand jointly reported the highest prevalence of obesity at 6.6% among the nine states, while Rohtas of Bihar had the lowest obese population at 2.3%.
Dr KC Pant, chief consultant physician at Doon Medical College Hospital, said such a high prevalence of excess weight among the young/adult population sounds an alarm bell for the hill state which has been traditionally known for its relatively slimmer populace.
“Factors like poor lifestyle choices, negligible outdoor activity and sedentary recreation activities (including excessive use of social media) are increasingly taking a toll on the hill dwellers, too,” he said. “Earlier on, these people were relatively untouched by weight issues.”
Weight loss leads to risk of diseases such as cardio-vascular problems, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), thyroid, cholesterol and other lifestyle diseases, he added.
When contacted, National Health Mission Uttarakhand director Dr R S Aswal said screening camps were being held across the state for spreading awareness about non communicable diseases. “We will sensitize them (people with excess weight) about the risks involved, diagnose them for blood pressure and diabetes, and also motivate them to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he told HT.