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In 35 years, obesity doubled among children and tripled in adults: Study

India’s 180 million adults, including 14.4 million children between the ages of two and 19 years, are obese.

health Updated: Jun 16, 2017 08:11 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Regular use of junk food and lack of an exercise regime has put urban kids at increased risk of high cholesterol levels.
Regular use of junk food and lack of an exercise regime has put urban kids at increased risk of high cholesterol levels.(Representative image)

Obesity in India more than doubled in children and tripled in adults between 1980 and 2015, shows an analysis of data from 195 countries from the Global Burden of Disease Study.

According to the study published in the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, India’s 180 million adults, including 14.4 million children between the ages of two and 19 years, are obese.

Overweight and obese children rose from 1.3% in 1980 to 3% in 2015.

The corresponding rise in men was from 1% to close to 5%, and from 2% to 7% in women.

“The rate at which obesity is growing in children is quite alarming as it means we will be faced with a large number of obese adults, prone to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even certain types of cancer,” said Dr VK Bahl, head of cardiology department at AIIMS.

India’s National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4), which is a pan-India survey that provides information on population, health and nutrition, shows 2.8% of the women surveyed had very high blood sugar levels.

In men, the figure was 3.8%.

Hypertension is also a huge health concern, with 0.7% women and 0.9% men suffering from it.

Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index (BMI) — the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres — as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, cancers, and musculoskeletal disorders.

In 2015, an estimated 107.7 million children, and 603.7 million adults were obese worldwide. The overall prevalence of obesity was 5.0% among children and 12.0% among adults.

The peak in the prevalence of obesity was observed between the ages of 60 and 64 years among women and between the ages of 50 and 54 years among men.

From 1990 through 2015, there was a relative increase of 28.3% in the global rate of deaths related
to high BMI.

From 41.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 1990, the number jumped to 53.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 2015.

However, India’s obesity prevalence is significantly lower than the levels seen in several Western countries such as America, where more than 30% of adults and 12% of children were obese in 2015.