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Get fitter Mumbai, your packet of chips, countless coffees can give you diabetes, BP, heart ailments

Mumbai city news: Obesity is a condition in which a person has a high fat percentage, a disturbed hip-waist ratio and a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25

fitter mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2017 13:45 IST
Aayushi Pratap
According to city doctors, not just millennials, most older working professionals, have a similar working pattern.
According to city doctors, not just millennials, most older working professionals, have a similar working pattern.(File)

Staring at a computer screen while drinking countless cups of coffee and eating junk food – this is how advertising professional Preet Gandhi spends 15 hours at work daily.

He’s not the only one. According to city doctors, not just millennials, most older working professionals, have a similar working pattern. The result: weight gain, which eventually translates into obesity.

In a week, Gandhi orders at least six meals from a nearby restaurant. “I leave for work at 9am. There is hardly any time to cook or exercise in the morning,” said Gandhi. “Work goes on till midnight. Coffee shots and some snacks in the office pantry keep us going.”

Doctors blame easy access to junk food for the rise in cases of obesity. “Junk food is delivered at your doorstep in no time. Working professionals tend to exploit this option,” said Dr Sanjay Borude, consultant bariatric surgeon at Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road.

Obesity is a condition in which a person has a high fat percentage, a disturbed hip-waist ratio and a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25.

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Pooja Pathak, a nutritionist, who worked at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, said preservatives in packaged food items cause considerable harm to the body. “The chemicals, which are added to improve the taste and quality of food, disturb hormonal balance in the body,” she said.

Emotional and work-related stress, too, impact body’s metabolism. “Every time a person is stressed, the levels of a hormone, cortisol, rise. This, in turn, affects a person’s appetite, leading to over-eating,” said Dr Borude.

Dr Shashank Shah, consultant bariatric surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said, “The first sign of weight gain is increase in waist circumference. Once your pants become tight, you need to start looking at the issue seriously.”

Dr Shah said incidence of obesity and weight-gain is marginally higher in women compared to men. “Women have a physiological basis for weight gain. The hormonal changes during puberty pregnancy and menopause cause women to gain weight. Also, the fat percentage in their body is much higher compared to men,” said Dr Shah.

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Obesity, if untreated, gives way other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and kidney problems. “Prevention is the key. Being obese makes you prone to so many other conditions, which need management and treatment,” said Dr Shah.

‘Make health a priority’

Dr Ramen Goel, director, metabolic and bariatric surgery, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, who organised the 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Obesity at Mumbai in 2009, says the government needs to regulate the food industry to control the incidence of obesity. Excerpts from an interview:

Fat is making you weaker: Doctors
  • Hypertension and diabetes, caused mainly by obesity, make people prone to complications when infected by a virus, malarial parasite and dengue virus.
  • Dr Anita Mathew-Davis, an infectious disease specialist at the civic-run Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, said, “Diabetics, people with heart, liver and kidney ailments don’t have a robust immunity response like healthy people. When people with these conditions are infected, managing curable conditions, too, sometimes becomes tough.”
  • Doctors said that obesity could lead to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility in women. “In PCOS, the egg is not released from the ovary because of hormonal disturbances,” said Dr Ashwini Bhalerao, gynaecologist at PD Hinduja hospital in Mahim. “In girls and women suffering from PCOS, weight loss helps in improving the hormonal balance,” she said.
  • In men, obesity could lead to a decrease in an important male hormone, testosterone, which causes infertility and problems such as erectile dysfunction, she said.
  • Dr Shilpa Joshi, a nutritionist, said simple dietary fixes and regular exercise go a long way in managing weight-related problems. “The problem is people don’t adhere to the schedule. Sometimes, we ask patients to give a daily report of the food items they consumed and how much they exercised. This virtual monitoring helps,” she said.

Has the incidence of obesity increased in Mumbai?

The number of overweight people in Mumbai has definitely increased in the past two decades. We carried out a survey in 2005-2006, where we found 60% of people working in corporate sector were overweight.

How much of it is determined by genetic factors?

In a given population, about 60% of the people with obesity have a family history. In the others, it is mostly environmental- and lifestyle-related factors such as unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Research shows 22 genes are responsible for obesity, but the role of each of these genes is not known yet. The number of people who can afford packaged and junk food has grown in the past two decades.

Is it preventable?

Even western countries such as the United States and Europe have not been able to prevent obesity. Preventing obesity, especially among those with a family history, is not easy, but it is the only option we have. People need to make their health a priority.

What are the treatments available for obesity?

Diet and exercise are important. There are medicines too, but a lot of them aren’t available in India. The United States Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking four to five medicines, which will help in treating obesity. Bariatric surgery is also an option, but only select people can go for it.

What can the government do?

The food industry has to be regulated. Today, if you take a small stretch from Santacruz to Bandra, there are some 40-odd bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, the onus of staying help is on people. Regulations like ‘fat tax’, which was implemented in Kerala last year, are cosmetic and won’t curtail public’s consumption of a certain kind of food.

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