The Biggest Loser and Indian obesity

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After reading this article about the The Biggest Loser, I checked out the Wikipedia page for the show. There are international versions. Through that I found out that there is an Indian version of the show. I thought this was weird. I mean, it’s India, right? Well, around 2% of Indian women are obese (BMI 30 and above). That’s 20 million obese! In India obesity still seems to correlate with wealth and higher status. Nearly 10% of women in Delhi and Punjab are obese (vs. 0.5% in Bihar, the heart of the “Deep North”). Nearly 10% of Jains are obese. 6.5% of women who have completed secondary school are obese, vs. 1% of illiterates. 6% of people in urban areas vs. 1% in rural areas.

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8 Comments

  1. That’s impressive for Jains. Don’t they have one of the most restricted diets?

  2. That’s what I was going to say. How do you become obese on such a restricted diet?

  3. The manner in which foods are prepared are just as critical as the foods that are consumed. A lot of Indian staples are heavy in starches and oils. More importantly social and cultural patterns for Indian women limit even meager expressions of physical exertion. The surplus of unskilled labor means that for any traditional Indian woman of means, they will have servants do everything. Labor force participation rates for women in India are low, coupled with sedentary lives at home and unhealthy diets inevitably leads to the phenomenon you see in India. Obesity for the upper classes and emaciation for everyone else.

  4. jains are very well off. they get enough to eat.

  5. One word: 
     
    Ghee.

  6. toto: 
     
    You’re not allowed to say that word–dredges up memories of “Little Black Sambo.”

  7. not ghee 
     
    most affluent indians ( myself included) consume very little ghee. 
     
    the problem is that the diet which is vegeterian or even if meat eating is replete with carbs. 
     
    know any other culture which will routinely eat potatoes with bread and consider it a complete meal. 
     
    plus 
    pretty much everything is fried 
     
    poor quality protein in diet contributes too. Dal’s ( lentils/ legumes) are the main source of protein. poor bioavailability, deficient is essential amino acids. 
     
    but basically TOO much carbs. 
     
    so the moment calories become adequate, central obesity ensues. 
     
    Just to give perspective- many years ago i tried to go a modified high prot low carb diet. couldnt sustin it- not because i got tired of it but, there was no way to avoid carbs in social situations

  8. @vic: 
    “Just to give perspective- many years ago i tried to go a modified high prot low carb diet. couldnt sustin it- not because i got tired of it but, there was no way to avoid carbs in social situations” 
     
    Absolutely the biggest impediment to the diet you described. I was able to push through because my family events (meat & potatoes) allowed me to at least eat the meat and skip the potatoes.

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