A recent tweet by writer Shobhaa De, which fat-shamed Madhya Pradesh cop Daulataram Jogawat, is proof that it is common to fat-shame obese people in India, said doctors.
Doctors said that this was a cruel practice because of every five cases of obesity, three have genetic reasons. Only 40% of obesity cases are related to extremely poor lifestyle, including unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. “So far, researchers have identified 18 genes related to obesity,” said a city-based geneticist.
Dr Shashank Shah, head of department, bariatric surgery, Hinduja Healthcare, Khar, said that weight loss is crucial in all obesity-related cases, but not everyone can lose a desired amount of weight with religious exercise and diet. “Generally, most people are able to lose 5 to 10% of their weight through diet and exercise, which is difficult to maintain. But, obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of over 35 invariably need bariatric surgery,” he said.
A BMI between 18 and 24 is considered healthy.
At least three patients with high BMI, who spoke to Hindustan Times, said that they deal with body shaming on a regular basis.
Mansi Belekar, 25, a resident of Nehul who was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has a BMI of 32. “I deal with subtle instances of fat shaming everyday. There is a colleague who looked at my old picture and remarked, ‘You looked so pretty, why did you let yourself go?’ There are people who are always giving unsolicited advice as they think that my weight gain is a result of over eating, but I know that’s not the case.”
Dr Raman Goel, a bariatric surgeon at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, said that unlike other medical conditions, obesity is something that can be seen. “People with dengue, cancer and malaria don’t face ridicule but ones with obesity are at the receiving end of many social prejudices,” he said.