As India Battles Malnutrition, A Report Shows How Obesity Is Also Becoming A Big Concern

Posted on January 21, 2016 in Down To Earth, Staff Picks

By Kundan Pandey:

Note: This article has been republished from Down To Earth.

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Source: Flickr
Even as India battles malnutrition, the country has developed another nutritional problem—obesity. In past 10 years, the number of obese people has doubled in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4).

As per the survey conducted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) released on Tuesday, people having a Body Mass Index (BMI) more than 25 kilograms per metre square have been considered as obese.

Most of the states have experienced a sharp rise in the number of obese people. Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Puducherry and Sikkim have more than 30 per cent of their populations falling under the ‘obese’ category. More than 10 per cent population in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal is obese; double since the last National Family Health Survey of 2005-06.

Experts believe that obesity is the major reason for developing different types of diabetes mellitus. Several researchers have highlighted that obesity accounts for 80-85% of the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Percentage of obesity in various states as recorded in NFHS-4 and NFHS-3

State   of Men (15-49 years) who are overweight or obese- NFHS-4 Men who are overweight or obese- NFHS-3 Women who are overweight or obese- NFHS-4 Women who are overweight or obese- NFHS-3
Andhra Pradesh 33.5 33.2
Andaman and Nicobar 38.2 31.8
Bihar 12.6 6.3 11.7 4.6
Goa 32.6 15.5 33.5 20.2
Haryana 20.0 10.8 21.0 17.4
Karnataka 22.1 10.9 23.3 15.3
Madhya Pradesh 10.9 4.3 13.6 7.6
Meghalaya 10.1 5.9 12.2 5.3
Puducherry 37.1 36.7
Sikkim 34.8 11.9 26.7 15.4
Tamil Nadu 28.2 14.5 30.9 20.9
Telangana 24.2 28.1
Tripura 15.9 4.8 16.0 7.1
Uttarakhand 17.7 7.9 20.4 12.8
West Bengal 14.2 5.5 19.9 11.4

Urban-Rural Divide

The survey highlights that urban population is more prone to obesity as compared to their rural counterparts. In Andhra Pradesh, 44.4% urban men suffered from obesity, while the percentage in rural parts was 28 per cent. Similarly, 45.6% of the urban women in the state were obese against the 27.6 per cent women in rural Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar, around 20% urban and 11% rural men were obese.

Additionally, three in ten women are overweight in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu.

Percentage of obesity in rural and urban areas in various states

Urban Rural
State Men Women Men Women
Andhra Pradesh 44.4 45.6 28.0 27.6
Andaman and Nicobar 38 38.3 38.3 26.6
Bihar 20.1 23.5 10.9 9.7
Goa 35.3 36.3 28.2 28.5
Haryana 21.0 24.3 19.3 18.8
Karnataka 28.6 31.8 17.1 16.6
Madhya Pradesh 17.6 23.8 7.8 9.1
Meghalaya 17.1 18.4 8.1 10.2
Puducherry 40.5 38.1 30.8 33.6
Sikkim 41.5 34.1 29.7 23.1
Tamil Nadu 30.6 36.2 25.6 25.4
Telangana 31.9 39.5 17.9 18.5
Tripura 18.2 23.5 14.9 12.8
Uttarakhand 23.0 28.4 14.1 16.0
West Bengal 20.7 30.6 11.2 15.0

The report also highlights that anaemia has declined in the country. However, it still remains widespread as more than half the women in eleven States/Union Territories are anaemic.

NFHS-4 is fourth in a series of national surveys. Previously, National Family Health Surveys have been carried out in 1992-93 (NFHS-1), 1998-99 (NFHS-2) and 2005-06 (NFHS-3). NFHS-4 is the first of these to collect data from each of India’s 29 States and all seven Union Territories.

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