Sample Healthcare Paper on Obesity in India

The significant increase in the cases of obesity in India presents a grave public health concern considering the link between overweight and greater incidences of non-communicable disease. The problem of increasing prevalence of obesity in India has affected children and adults alike in all sections of society. Two of the most notable risk factors for the problem are urbanization and economic development. Obesity and its related chronic diseases have adverse impacts on societies as well as the economy. The problem can be mitigated by increasing public awareness about the problem and its negative health consequences. The main rationale behind these recommendations is based on the fact that public health initiatives that seek to encourage healthier ways of life often result in a favorable outcome on people’s health.

Nature and Magnitude of the Problem

The significant increase in the cases of obesity in India presents a grave public health concern considering the link between overweight and greater incidences of non-communicable disease (Luhar, Mallinson, Clarke & Kinra, 2019). According to Luhar, Timaeus, Jones & Cunningham (2020), the prevalence of obesity in the country is rising at a faster rate than the global average. For example, the prevalence of obesity among women rose from 8.4% to 15.5% from 1998 and 2015. On the other hand, the rate among men rose from 2.2% to 5.1% during the same period.  The rapid increase has also been associated with the marked rise in the health challenge posed by non-communicable diseases.

Who is Affected and What are the Determinants of and Risk Factors?

The problem of increasing prevalence of obesity in India has affected children and adults alike in all sections of society. Ahirwar & Mondal (2018) noted that over 135 million people in India were affected by obesity. The prevalence rate of the disease in the country varies depending on age, socio-economic status, gender, and geographical environment. The prevalence rate also varies from rural to urban areas and state-wise. Furthermore, the prevalence rate among women is significantly greater that the prevalence rate among men. Urban states and populations with higher socio-economic status were discovered to be having greater prevalence rates. Basu (2017) also noted that a survey of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in India’s public schools established that 33% of the schoolchildren were obese. Bansal (2019) further pointed out that a recent study by the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found that approximately 5% to 8.8% of India’s school children are obese.

A number of studies have identified several determinants and risk factors for the problem. Two of the most notable risk factors for the problem are urbanization and economic development. Luhar et al (2019) noted that during the early phases of economic growth and urbanization, obesity and overweight prevalence rates tend to be greater among people of upper socio-economic status possibly because of greater economic capability to satisfy and surpass nutritional requirements. Luhar et al (2019) further noted that as people’s incomes rise, the incidence of obesity rises among the rural and poor populations too.

Basu (2017) also pointed out that fast foods have increasingly become a staple at India’s malls, shopping centers, and in its growing cities. Basu (2017) suggested that childhood obesity is primarily a problem in today’s India, where American-style malls, newfound luxuries like air conditioning and cars, and fast foods have significantly altered the lifestyles of Indian families with greater purchasing power. Additionally, kids are leading far more sedentary lifestyles than before, with the pressure to better their performance in academics more intense. Whatever little free time kids have is spent on mobile phones, video games and computer games.

Health, Economic, and Social Consequences of the Problem

Obesity and its related chronic diseases have adverse impacts on societies as well as the economy. According to the OECD (2019), obesity and its related chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes limit life expectancy in OECD countries by an average of 2.7 years. Obesity also adversely affects learning outcomes as school children with a healthy weight have a 13% greater likelihood of reporting good grades in school. Obesity also reduces workers’ and employment productivity, which ultimately reduces GDP by 3.3%. OECD countries also spend approximately 8.4% of their health budgets to treat the effects of obesity over the coming 30 years. Ahirwar & Mondal (2019) also pointed out that abdominal obesity is among the key risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease in India. Several studies have demonstrated that obesity is among the major financial and medical burdens for the Indian government.

Recommendations to Address the Problem

A number of steps can be taken to address the problem of obesity in India. To start with, the problem can be mitigated by increasing public awareness about the problem and its negative health consequences. Secondly, government health agencies should make efforts to promote the advantages of leading healthy lifestyles, healthy eating habits, and encouraging more physical activity. Government programs seeking to minimize the rising prevalence rates of obesity should focus on school children and poorer women in the developed states of India since the rising trend in prevalence amongst these populations has been significant.

Rationale for the Recommendations

The main rationale behind these recommendations is based on the fact that public health initiatives that seek to encourage healthier lifestyles often have a favorable outcome on population health. Consequently, such actions can serve as an excellent investment for India. Thousands of cases of chronic non-communicable diseases can be avoided by implementing public health initiatives to supply information, regulate or limit unhealthy lifestyle choices, and increase access to healthy options. Lastly, implementing measures to reduce and prevent obesity can help India to realize greater workforce productivity and increase in employment.

 

 

 

References

Ahirwar, R., & Mondal, P. R. (2019). Prevalence of obesity in India: A systematic review. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews13(1), 318-321.

Bansal, G. (2019). Health 2019: 27 Million Indian Kids will be Obese by 2030 – Dr Gorika Bansal. Retrieved from: https://www.ndtv.com/health/decade-end-special-how-incidence-of-childhood-obesity-increased-in-the-past-decade-and-what-parents-2152279

Basu, M. (2017). India, notorious for malnutrition, is now land of obesity. CNN. Retrieved from: https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2017/10/health/i-on-india-childhood-obesity/

Luhar, S., Timæus, I. M., Jones, R., Cunningham, S., Patel, S. A., Kinra, S., … & Houben, R. (2020). Forecasting the Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in India to 2040. PloS one15(2), e0229438.

Luhar, S., Mallinson, P. A. C., Clarke, L., & Kinra, S. (2019). Do trends in the prevalence of overweight by socio-economic position differ between India’s most and least economically developed states?. BMC public health19(1), 783.

OECD (2019). The Heavy Burden of Obesity: The Economics of Prevention. A Quick Guide for Policy Makers. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/health/health-systems/Heavy-burden-of-obesity-Policy-Brief-2019.pdf

Samal, S., Panigrahi, P., & Dutta, A. (2015). Social epidemiology of excess weight and central adiposity in older Indians: analysis of Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE). BMJ open5(11), e008608.