Washington: Seems like obesity is no longer confined to India's prosperous elite as more than one in four middle-aged Indians on low and middling incomes has been found to carry an unhealthy midriff bulge, with women most likely to carry a spare tyre.
The results of a nationally representative survey imply that obesity has trickled down to all levels of society, fuelled, in part, by India's rapid economic growth in recent years, suggest the researchers.
They base their findings on a nationally representative survey of more than 7000 people in 2010 from 6 Indian states: Rajasthan; Uttar Pradesh; West Bengal; Assam; Maharashtra; and Karnataka.
The survey, which included measurements of height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure, was part of the international Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE), and involved only those aged 50 and above.
The researchers said that Indians aspire to big body size as a mark of prosperity and this is likely to fuel the culture of excess calorie intake, especially as generations of Indians have historically experienced chronic food shortages.
But, coupled with the country's growing purchasing power as a result of its rapid economic growth, this is likely to prompt a rapid rise in obesity across all levels of society, they say.
Population based promotion of appropriate lifestyles, with special emphasis on women, is required to counteract prosperity driven obesity before it becomes too entrenched and expensive to uproot, they warned, but emphasised that diseases caused by under-nutrition and poverty still co-exist cheek-by-jowl with diseases of overconsumption in India, and that concerted efforts should be made to continue addressing this 'unfinished business.'
The study is published in the online journal BMJ Open.