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An obesity crisis in corporate India?

The majority of India’s corporate executives are experiencing obesity, a recent report suggests. 

The Corporate India Fitness Report 2019 has found that six out of ten executives in India are overweight. Dr Sandeep Budhiraja notes “long working hours, irregular meals, intake of junk food, and lowered physical activity have made…employees unhealthy and prone to diseases related to cardiovascular problems, cancer, high cholesterol, strokes, etc.” 

The same is true of Indians at the bottom of the corporate ladder. As previously reported by Health Issues India, increased numbers of Indians are working in white collar desk jobs as opposed to more manual blue-collar occupations. This professional shift is associated with higher levels of body mass index – a major indicator of whether or not someone’s weight is healthy. Many associate increased number of Indians following a sedentary lifestyle to rising rates of obesity. As such, it is important to emphasise the importance of an active lifestyle as the Centre has recently been taking steps to do. 

The ‘Fit India’ movement, launched last month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one way of this. Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kirin Rijiju expressed hope that the movement will help to “develop a sports culture and fitness movement in India. We are a great sporting country but need to have a sporting powerhouse. We have to make sports as a way of life.” The Prime Minister said “there is indifference towards fitness issues now. With technology, physical activity has reduced.”

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is also a keen advocate of fitness, recently promoting exercises such as cycling and yoga during a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting in New Delhi. “We have to imbibe these practices in our own lives and promote it among others,” he said. 

Obesity is associated with a range of noncommunicable diseases, as noted by Dr Budhiraja. Thirty million Indians, including 14.4 million children, struggle with weight issues. This number is expected to grow in the coming years, with India potentially becoming home to 48.4 million obese people by 2025. Promoting physical activity and other positive lifestyle habits, such as consuming a healthy diet, can help to ward off this crisis and the many diseases likely to accompany it. 

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