London: Traditionally thought to be a mark of prosperity, obesity is no longer confined to the rich in India. A new research has found that more than one in four middle-aged Indians on low and middling incomes now have an unhealthy midriff bulge.
The study published in the online journal BMJ Open showed that women are more likely to carry a spare tyre.
Fuelled, in part, by India's rapid economic growth in recent years, obesity has trickled down to all levels of society, the researchers said.
"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," the study said.
The study was authored by Sudipta Samal and Ambarish Dutta from Asian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, and Pinaki Panigrahi from the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, Omaha, Nebraska, US.
The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of more than 7,000 people in 2010 from six 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 , and involved only those aged 50 and above.
Most of the participants either had no paid job or lived on traditional subsistence or unskilled labour.
Analysis of the data showed that in all, 14 percent of the sample were overweight, while more than one in three (35 percent) had a midriff bulge, defined as a waist circumference of more than 90 cm for men and more than 80 cm for women.
Women were particularly prone to central adiposity, with more than two thirds of those among the most affluent and almost half of those on low to middling incomes carrying an unhealthy spare tyre.