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29 May 21

India has witnessed rapid lifestyle changes in the last few decades. Economic and social growth has improved the lives of millions of people in the country. Material growth has, however, led to dietary changes. Indians have distinct eating habits due to the country’s diverse culture. Moreover, the increase in wealth has resulted in a drastic change in native dietary patterns. The intake of food with higher fat content has led to the emergence of obesity as a debilitating worry for Indians. Not just India, obesity has become a global issue. The rate of obesity has doubled since 1980 and is likely to grow at a fast pace in the near future. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with a change in dietary intake has resulted in overweight problems. Before we help you tackle overweight issues, let us understand their impact on your health.

Side-Effects of Being Overweight and Obese

Generally, all major and minor diseases affect a specific part of the body. Arthritis will affect the bones, while cataract will affect the eyes. But obesity affects the entire body. The side-effects of being overweight are both mental as well as physical. Moreover, obesity also increases a person’s chances of contracting serious diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, and even some forms of cancer.

The side-effects of being overweight can range from simple mechanical issues to complex metabolic and hormonal changes. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of many diseases, such as:

  • Type-2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease and stroke

  • Sleep apnea

  • Cancer

  • Fatty liver disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Pregnancy-related problems

We’ve discussed some of these issues further in the article.

Overweight and Obesity Rates in India

As per the latest records available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website, the obesity and overweight rates in India are as follows:


Both Sexes



Prevalence of obesity among adults, i.e. BMI ≥ 30 (age-standardised estimate) (%)

3.9 [3.0-5.0]

2.7 [1.7-4.0]

5.1 [3.6-6.9]

Prevalence of overweight among adults, BMI ≥ 25 (age-standardised estimate) (%)

19.7 [16.9-22.8]

17.8 [13.9-22.4]

21.6 [17.6-25.8]

Childhood Obesity Rates in India

India has become the epicentre for childhood obesity, especially in urban cities. Even though the age-standardised rates are low, India ranks third in the world when it comes to childhood obesity. A 2013 systematic analysis conducted as part of the Global Burden of Disease Study reported that 5.3% of males and 5.2% of females aged under 20 years in India were overweight. The overall prevalence of obesity among males and females in the above age category was 2.3% and 2.5%, respectively.

Why Being Overweight/Obese is a Problem?

Being overweight or obese doesn’t just have a long-term impact on the body but also interferes with daily functionalities. It has been found that one of the side-effects of being overweight is poor episodic memory. Research from the University of Cambridge found that overweight individuals may find it harder to recall past events as compared to fitter people.

‘A direct relation was found between poor episodic memory and high Body Mass Index (BMI)’, the study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology said. Obesity affects the area of the brain that controls learning and memory and, hence, has a direct impact on the problem-solving and decision-making skills of an individual. It essentially means that people with a high BMI may not be able to perform certain mental activities to the best of their abilities.

Health Risks of Being Overweight and Obese

There are several side-effects of being overweight or obese. Know that obesity doesn’t come alone; a host of diseases follow obesity. Here are some of the health risks of being overweight/obese.

  • Type-2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that leads to higher than normal blood sugar levels. High sugar levels in the blood can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Type-2 diabetes can double the risk of death and severely obese people are 10 times more likely to be affected by it. While genetic factors have a major impact on Type-2 diabetes, excessive weight and poor diet also increase the chances.

  • Hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension is a side-effect of being overweight. Being overweight significantly increases the probability of hypertension. High blood pressure increases the pressure on the heart and can lead to a variety of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Respiratory Disorders

Excessive weight affects the functioning of the lungs. People with obesity have been observed to have reduced lung capacity, which leads to asthma and other serious diseases like obstructive sleep apnea. When excessive fat gets accumulated in the throat, neck, or tongue, the individual faces difficulty in breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea is a serious disease that can lead to fatigue, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

One of the biggest overweight problems is gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It causes the stomach secretions to leak into the oesophagus, which results in a feeling of indigestion, coughing, or heartburn.

Calculating Obesity or Being Overweight

An individual’s weight can fluctuate to an extent depending on his lifestyle and dietary intake, but how to know if one is overweight or obese? There are simple metrics to know if you are overweight.

  • BMI

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common tool to know if you are overweight. BMI provides a score by taking into account your height and weight. A score between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, whereas a BMI score between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a score of 30 or above is termed as obese. You can calculate your Body Mass Index using our online BMI calculator and determine if your BMI is high or low.

  • Waist Size

The size of the waist is another simple metric to know about obesity. Fat accumulation around the waist can lead to a host of diseases. A waist size of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is considered a sign of obesity.

How to Solve Overweight and Obesity Problems?

Weight gain and obesity can be controlled through a focused action plan. A healthy diet plan, regular exercise, and regular monitoring can help you reduce weight. Here are a few tips to maintain your weight and resolve overweight and obesity-related problems.

  • Regular Exercise

Around 150-300 minutes of moderate-high intensity physical activity is needed in a week to have an effect on your weight. The target can be achieved through enjoyable activities like speed-walking, swimming, or cycling.

  • Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Habits

The quality and quantity of food that you have in a day is one of the biggest factors that contribute to weight gain. One needs to follow a disciplined diet plan to control obesity. Try to include nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Avoid eatables with saturated fat and excessive sugar like processed food and cola. Don’t starve; have meals at regular intervals, but cut down on snacking.

  • Regular Weight Monitoring

Regularly monitoring your weight is important to keep a track of your weight loss efforts. People who monitor their weight every week have a better idea of their progress and are able to take remedial steps immediately. Monitoring regularly also helps you detect small weight gains.

Final Takeaway

Obesity is a serious health issue that often goes unnoticed. While body weight can be controlled by an individual, obesity is sometimes a result of genetics. Along with the propensity to catch serious diseases, obese people also tend to spend more on health issues. However, with an adequate health insurance cover, you will not have to worry about the treatment expenses that arise out of any illness(es) triggered due to obesity.  

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FAQs on How to Tackle Overweight Problems

  • ✔️What are the symptoms of being overweight or obese?

     Symptoms of obesity or being overweight include:

    • Excess body fat accumulation or belly fat

    • Shortness of breath

    • Sweating more than usual

    • Snoring

    • Trouble sleeping

    • Skin problems

    • Inability to perform simple physical tasks

    • Fatigue

    • Psychological impact (negative self-esteem, depression, shame, social isolation)

  • ✔️What are the health risks of being overweight or obese?

     Being overweight or obese can put you at risk of acquiring some of the following health issues:

    • Type-2 diabetes

    • Hypertension

    • Heart diseases

    • High blood pressure

    • Stroke

    • Gallbladder disease

    • PCOS

  • ✔️Can I undergo bariatric surgery to lose weight?

     If your BMI is higher than 25 and you have comorbidities, or in case your BMI is 30 and higher and you’ve no risk factors, you can undergo bariatric surgery after consulting with a doctor.  

  • ✔️How is life after a weight loss surgery?

     You might not face any major side-effects of bariatric surgery. However, your doctor will advise you to adopt some lifestyle and dietary changes after the procedure. Rest assured because you will observe health improvements post-surgery.

  • ✔️What will my diet be after a weight loss surgery?

    For the initial week or 10 days post-surgery, you will be put on a liquid diet. Later, you can start with soft and pureed food. Much later, you can follow your normal diet. However, ensure that you consult your doctor before making changes to your dietary routine.