Fitness: Tackling Obesity

You know it’s a serious issue when Michelle Obama’s fighting against it. India too, suffers from an increased rate of obesity in children and teenagers. The WHO defines obesity as – abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. The three main reasons for obesity in India are – reckless diet, lack of exercise, and most importantly, over indulgent parents.


The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body weight relative to height. It roughly indicates the level of fat accumulation in the body. It can be calculated by dividing height in centimeters by weight in kg squared. BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight while BMI over 30 is considered obese.

Some of the noticeable symptoms of obesity include – lethargy, breathlessness, difficulty in doing daily chores, ballooning of the abdominal area et cetera. Flabby under arms and thighs along with stress are also valid symptoms.


There are various causes of obesity in teenagers; especially in India. One of these reasons is the refusal to eat home cooked food. Children today insist on skipping home meals and replace them with highly fatty street food. A lot of teenagers nowadays experience higher levels of stress. This can lead to depression and, ultimately, binge eating. Distortion of the sleep pattern is also a serious offence which children commit.

It has been medically proven that lack of sleep aids obesity. Peer pressure often forces teens to light up. Smoking is as much of a serious threat as aerated drinks. Perhaps the most important factor is the sedentary lifestyle that young people today have adopted. In order to get rid of fat, calories need to be burnt.

Engaging in light physical activities like walking can be extremely beneficial in the long run. Indian society is also to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs. The weight of a child, apparently, reflects the economic prosperity of the household. The phrase “khaate peete ghar ka” is used quite proudly and misleadingly by mothers in India. Sometimes the reasons for obesity are hereditary. The child of an obese couple is more likely to be obese than the child of a normal weighted couple.


The myriad effects of obesity include – cardiovascular disease, infertility, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, liver and kidney disorders etc. The psychological effects of obesity are perhaps graver than the physical ones. Obese people are more likely to show low self-esteem because of their unattractive girth. They are also likely to face social discrimination because they don’t fit a certain mould of consistency.


The best way to tackle obesity is to start exercising regularly. The calories need to be burnt in order to fight the fat. Hitting the gym is unnecessary in most cases. Brisk walking is shown to be effective. Practicing beginner’s yoga is also very effective.

A proper dietary plan is imperative. High intake of vegetables is always beneficial. Cutting back on fast foods; especially aerated drinks, is very important. Eating small portions at regular intervals is better than eating huge portions twice a day.

Kicking the cigarette butt and divorcing alcohol would be hugely profitable. De-stressing and getting proper R.E.M. sleep is also a necessary part of the plan. Surgery can be employed in severe cases. Operations like gastric bypass and sleeve gastronomy have proven to be effective in the past.

For normal or slightly overweight people, a proper balanced diet with regular exercise is all that is required to maintain a healthy body.

Anirudh Madhavan