Wednesday, 18 September 2013

"The weight of our nation : India" series part 2 ( Nutritional Transition & Parental Influence)

"The weight of our nation : India" 


   PART 2  of the series in

 "The weight of our nation:


Nutritional Transition and Dual Burden

India is facing a nutritional transition, from a country starved of basic nutrition we have marched to urbanization with a diet which is energy dense. Although parts of the country still face malnutrition, the presence of obesity is prevalent and ever-growing. 

Look around you and you will realize that at least one person in your family is obese or over weight.  Our country is facing a dual burden of under nutrition and over nutrition. Iron, vitamin A and iodine have always been related to under nutrition but the American journal of clinical nutrition have now found a link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency. 

The issue of concern here is that children are being given an energy dense diet but inadequately nourished foods. Obesity can be blamed on syndrome x and the thrifty gene that is most common India but it all comes down to leading a lifestyle that is degrading the very quality and longevity of life. World health organization estimates that diabetes is on the rise in India and will increase from 19.4 million in 1995 to 57.2 million by 2025.

“Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with the urban living environment in India” (1)
The national nutrition bureau reports that 5 percent of the population consumes 40 percent of available fat, and yes this 5 percent is the urban population. Income inequality plays a major factor in understanding the dual burden and nutritional transition of the country.

Children born in lower income homes face under nutrition and children born in well to do homes face over nutrition, hence the need to study the double burden and help both the over nourished and undernourished.

“Those living in urban areas have an increased risk of over nutrition and may face serious associated health problems. Factors associated with under- and overweight are similar. Indian women in the highest socioeconomic groups are more likely to be overweight or obese, whereas nearly half of poor women are underweight” (2)


The factors that affect childhood obesity are health education, physical education, health services, nutritional services, social services, healthy school environment, parental co-operation and an overall healthy life style. Children imitate the life style of their parents.

There are abundant studies reflecting the need for nutrition as developing countries are now being flooded with the epidemic of childhood obesity. In 2004, Bray suggests that ‘obesity meets the criteria needed to call it a disease’. This is an understood fact as obesity is a precursor to major risk factor for many diseases; Such as most metabolic diseases.

For example, Diabetes, heart diseases, hyper tension, some sort of cancers and the list goes on. India was once considered a nation suffering from starvation which has suddenly been enveloped by an ever growing epidemic of obesity. It has been observed that 33% of obese adults were obese since early childhood. Therefore this confirms the link between childhood obesity and obesity in adults.

Morbid obesity has affected 5% of India’s population. India is susceptible to obesity genetically as Asians carry the thrifty gene.
India’s most urbanized and obese States namely Punjab, Kerala and Goa rank high according to the statistics conducted in 2007 National Family Health Survey.

Urbanization I feel has been a great cause for obesity in India where childhood obesity is a reflection of obesity in adults. The adults in India tend to eat energy dense foods but undernourished foods which add weight to the body. There is concentration on quantity but the quality is neglected. So as we observe the adult statistics we can conclude that the children will follow the same pattern.

refrence: (1)  The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, The Nutrition Transition Is Underway in India1,2    Paula L. Griffiths*,4 and Margaret E. Bentley*,

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