Alcohol, junk food and carefree city lifestyle are pushing youths in Delhi and neighbouring regions more towards obesity, majority of whom don’t even consider it as a disorder and are not even aware of the health risks it entails.
The “shocking” finding has come in a study conducted on over 1,000 people from Delhi and neighbouring region, in the age group of 20-45 over the last one month.
“In the survey, over 80 per cent of the respondents (both men and women) said they had a Body-Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 kg/sqm, but only about 21 per cent considered themselves as obese or overweight.
“This is both shocking and distressing that the youth don’t even consider obesity as a disorder or a disease, let alone be aware of the health risk it could trigger,” said Dr Pradeep Chowbey, Chairman of Max Institute of Minimal Access, Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
The study, titled, ‘Perception and Awareness Regarding Bariatric Surgical Procedure & It’s Benefits’ was conducted by a third-party on behalf of Max Healthcare across all zones of Delhi and NCR to investigate attitudes and experiences of general Delhi population towards obesity and weight-loss surgery.
“Alcohol, junk food consumption which has become part of the carefree urban lifestyle is actually wreaking havoc on people’s health in metros like Delhi, and the worst-affected age group is 20-30 years. And, women are getting affected more than men,” he said.
According to Chowbey, the normal limit for BMI (body weight/height squared) is 22.5 kg/sqm, but the youth in Delhi, which showed even 27.5 on BMI scale during the survey, marked themselves as “not obese”.
“What is more worrying is that majority of the respondents (70 per cent) did not know that hypertension is associated with obesity, or that it could trigger diabetes, what we call as diabesity,” he said.
Chowbey said obesity can also result in grave health consequences like heart diseases, joint problems, kidney problems, sleep apnea and depression to name a few.
Incidentally, all respondents knew that obesity could trigger heart ailments.
As per the survey, 65.4 per cent men as against 73.6 per cent women didn’t know that obesity could lead to joint problems, 93.5 per cent men versus 76.8 per cent women didn’t know about kidney problems associated with obesity.
Also, 50 per cent men versus 63 per cent women agreed that obesity can be a cause for infidelity in a relationship.
Chowbey said, “At Max Healthcare, on an average nearly 300-400 people from Delhi are coming for bariatric surgery, out of which about 50 are being operated per month. And, women constitute nearly 60 per cent of the cases.”
The study also found out that nearly 95 per cent men versus 96.2 per cent women didn’t know about sleep apnea and obesity, and over 80 per cent men and more than 82 per cent women didn’t know about diabetes and obesity.
Situation at Apollo Hospital is similar, with 8-10 cases of bariatric surgeries being done there.
A hospital source said, “In bariatric (weight-loss) surgeries, women outnumber men at our hospital. Many also come out of peer pressure to shape up or because they wish to cosmetically augment their look, and 60 per cent of these are women.
“Most of the obese cases are related to the age bracket of 20-30.”
Chowbey said obesity could be caused by three factors — hereditary, hormonal or food habit and lifestyle.
“For hereditary cases there isn’t much help but for hormone-triggered obesity, the cure is more of medication rather than surgery.
But, many people who come for bariatric surgeries, are those who have turned obese due to junk food and alcohol consumption,” he said.
But, health is not the only factor associated with obesity, marital and sex life is also getting affected by it, according to the study.
57 per cent men versus 77 per cent women felt their partners stopped taking care of the weight post marriage. Also, 84 per cent women versus 58 per cent of men admitted that due to obesity one can’t dress the way one would have liked to, it says.
Besides, 93 per cent men versus 87 per cent women felt “obesity impacts sexual performance”.
“Women affected by obesity are also likely to suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance and causes small cysts to grow on their ovaries,” he said.
Chowbey says, for BMI of 32 kg/sqm, it is called morbid obesity and after 50 BMI, it is superobesity.
“We do get cases of superobesity too in Delhi. We have had patients with BMI of 70 and 90 also,” he said, adding, “people go for weigh-loss surgeries also because in India body shaming is also a factor.”
According to the study, 8.8 per cent respondents were unaware that bariatric surgery is an option for weight-loss while over 10 per cent said they will consider surgical procedures to fight obesity.