Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Extra kilos among rural poor weighing India down
Obesity and overweight recorded an 8.6-fold increase in India’s rural areas over 14 years, compared to a 1.7-fold increase in urban areas over 20 years.
 
In the rural areas of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh where we’ve been working, we found that 40% of reproductive-age women are overweight or obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or higher; 18 to 22.9 is considered healthy in women). This rate of obesity is nearly three times higher than underweight prevalence, higher even than the average prevalence in Punjab, which leads all Indian states.
 
It appears clear to us that the problems of overweight and obesity are no longer limited to the urban rich in India, one of three major contributors, along with the US and China, to the world’s heaviness epidemic.
 
The two of us have been working on under-nutrition in India and other countries for more than 30 years. We have seen plenty of overweight and obese persons, but we generally dismissed the issue as one of the consequences of urban, upper-income plentitude and one of little importance in India’s overall development.
 
With such numbers, and the strong association of overweight with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, India can no longer be blasé about the problem.
 
Obesity plagues India’s affluent, as IndiaSpend reported in December 2015. This is happening as India fights a losing battle with the bulge, hosting as it does the third-most number of obese people in the world - 61 million and growing.
 
Low-income populations are no longer immune
 
Some of the overweight increases among the poor are surely due to what’s come to be known as the “thrifty phenotype” or the “Barker” hypothesis (after a late British epidemiologist), a now-proven postulate that persons who are undernourished during the foetal period, or the first two years of life, suffer biologic dysfunction as adults, including an inability to properly oxidise fat.
 
Commonly seen photos of an overweight mother feeding her undernourished child often suggest that the mother herself had been malnourished in her early years.
 
But, additionally, some of the same factors precipitating overweight and obesity in more affluent individuals also have a role with low-income families: the tendency to calm a crying child with sweets, the insidious effect of omnipresent processed foods filled with sugar and transfats and their aggressive advertising (a downside of India’s continued integration into global food markets), alcohol, tobacco, and a more sedentary lifestyle than had earlier been the case.
 
Although there is no reliable national data, there is evidence from local studies that childhood obesity is growing in India, with poorer children as affected as richer children.
 
These trends have proven difficult to reverse, even in countries which have addressed them seriously. Yet some promising developments in these countries may have relevance for India.
 
The importance of anti-obesity champions
 
One pre-requisite to engineer change appears to be finding a champion, preferably more than one. Such a champion in the United States has been its first lady, Michelle Obama, who has made the reduction of childhood overweight and obesity the primary goal of her years in the White House, with some positive results for the Let’s Move! campaign she designed.
 
An earlier champion was presidential candidate and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. While governor, Huckabee suffered from, and then recovered from Type 2 diabetes with the help of a nutritious diet.
 
Huckabee then got religion on the subject, removed the junk food-filled vending machines from schools and required that school cafeterias serve only healthy food. (When told that the children might not eat such foods, Huckabee instinctively responded, “Then they’ll be hungry.”)
 
Themed campaigns: South Korea used patriotism against fat
 
Also important are themed campaigns. One relatively successful campaign geared to the parents of children in a number of countries has the motto “5-2-1”. The meaning: Your child should consume a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, should have a maximum of two hours of screen time daily, and a minimum of one hour of exercise.
 
South Korea has made its theme “patriotism”. If you are a patriotic Korean, the message goes, you will eat foods that are Korean… and not foreign fast food.
 
Finland, which had the highest prevalence of cardio-vascular disease in Europe, embarked on an energetic campaign-aimed at increasing energy expenditure. It was a success.
 
Some countries, including Mexico, have placed hefty taxes on sugary soft drinks. Some have argued that these tax revenues be used to subsidise the price of fresh vegetables and fruits in low income areas.
 
Other countries have placed strict controls on the advertising of unhealthy food products in the media and in schools.
 
The fat challenge: India has overcome greater adversity
 
These campaigns, though challenging, are doable. They are certainly far preferable to the increasing tendency among India’s rising middle class to splurge on unhealthy processed food and then opt for the latest quick fix: bariatric weight-loss surgery.
 
Perhaps the time has come for India to consider seriously a national effort to address this problem of overweight and obesity which is now imperilling the well-being of all of the country’s economic and social classes - and contributing dangerously to national health costs.
 
Adding such an effort to the still desperately needed assault on under-nutrition in the country - the two now frequently referred to as “the double burden of malnutrition” - is likely to pay valuable dividends for the country and its people.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Ramesh Poapt

6 months ago

hunger(poverty)(undernourished) and obesity........two contradictory problems of India!!!

No NSG consensus over India's membership bid
A lack of consensus amid strong opposition from several countries led by China thwarted India's bid for NSG membership in Seoul on Thursday night even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent to consider New Delhi's bid on its merit.
 
The Indian application for membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group was taken up at a post-dinner special session in the South Korean capital where heads of delegation of NSG are holding a plenary, highly informed sources in Seoul told IANS.
 
The sources said several countries led by China opposed the idea of letting India in on the grounds that New Delhi was a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Those siding with China included Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Turkey and Ireland.
 
Signing the NPT is one of the main requirements to be part of the elite club of nations that regulate global nuclear trade and technology. 
 
China had earlier brought up Pakistan's NSG application that virtually stonewalled India's chances of getting into the bloc without signing the Non-proliferation Treaty.
 
China had been insisting that if any concession is given to India, the same should apply to Pakistan which has an alleged bad track record on non-proliferation after it was said to have sold atomic weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
 
The sources said Pakistan's application didn't come up for the discussion. 
 
The issue of considering applications of non-NPT countries, including India, was not on the main agenda of the NSG's closed-door plenary.
 
But several diplomatic sources said that Japan raised the issue in the opening session. It was later decided that the matter would be discussed at the special session convened by Chairperson Rafael Grossi of Argentina.
 
Argentina and South Korea along with several key member nations, including the US, Britain, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, France and Russia, have been supportive of India's NSG aspirations.
 
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi, who met President Xi in Tashkent on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Uzbekistan capital, urged China to judge India's application on its "merit".
 
"Prime Minister Modi urged China to make a fair and objective assessment of India's application and judge it on its own merit," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup briefed reporters in Tashkent.
 
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the opposition to India's membership won't impact bilateral ties between them.
 
"We do not believe that it is an issue concerning the bilateral relationship between China and India," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media, adding that the two countries "have agreed that we would make joint efforts to develop closely knit relationship".
 
Ahead of the Seoul plenary, India made hectic diplomatic efforts to secure the membership in the grouping which works on the principle of consensus and allows a new member only if all existing members agree.
 
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is in Seoul as part of India's diplomatic outreach to push through the NSG. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Ebbs and Tides of Countries
Ruchir Sharma is a head of emerging markets and chief global strategist of Morgan Stanley Investment Management. His previous book, Breakout Nations, appeared in 2010 (and was reviewed in Moneylife) to great critical acclaim. This book is even better. It is a kind of macro checklist of the ebbs and tides in the life of nations. In his own words, “over the past twenty-five years, I have spent long hours on the road, trying to build a system of rules for spotting telltale shifts in political and economic conditions. This is my guide to identifying the ten signs of major turns, for better or worse, in the fates of nations.” What are these 10 signs to watch out for? These are demographics, reformers, inequality, State interventions, geography, manufacturing as a share of GDP, inflation, currency value, debt levels and media hype. I have picked a few to elaborate. 
 
Demographics: The world still echoes with recurring fear about the ‘population bomb’ scenarios which suggest that the number of people will outstrip supplies of food and other resources, with explosive results. Those scenarios rely on the United Nations’ oft-cited forecast for the year 2050 which shows that population will rise by 2.4 billion people, from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion. However, the reality is different. All over the world, including in India, population growth is slowing down. In some parts of India, there is no growth in population. Fewer young people are entering the working force while people are living longer; it is a sure recipe for slower economic growth.
 
Reformers: “The essential question to ask about the impact of politics on the prospects for any economy is this one: Is the nation ready to back a reformer? To answer it, the first step is to figure out which position the nation occupies on the circle of life,” writes Sharma. “Countries most likely to do well are those struggling to recover from crisis. When a country’s back is against the wall, the general public and the political elites are most likely to accept tough economic reform. Nations are most likely to change for the worse in boom times, when the populace is sinking into complacency, too busy enjoying its good fortune to understand that in a competitive global economy, the need to reform is constant.”
 
Currency: A country’s currency is critical for understanding its economic prospects. If it has an overpriced currency, it will encourage both locals and foreigners to move money out, eventually sapping domestic economic growth. A currency that feels cheap will draw money into the economy, through exports, tourism, and other channels, boosting its growth.
 
Debt: “The decay produced by debt is a progressive disease. Its symptoms become gradually more intense, depending on how fast the debt is growing and for how long.” Sharma’s research shows that “if private credit grew by just 15 percentage points as a share of GDP over five years, the GDP growth rate eased in the next five years, slowing on average by 1 percentage point a year during that period. As the pace of private credit growth picked up, the scale and likelihood of an economic slowdown increased as well. If private credit grew by 25 percentage points as a share of GDP over five years, the slowdown was quite significant.”
 
Media Hype: The longer an economic boom lasts, the more credible a country’s track-record appears to the media and the more warmly they embrace it as the economy of the future, writes Sharma. “The more this love deepens, the more alarmed I get.” Sharma argues that if a period of strong growth approaches the five-year mark, the assumption should be that the growth spurt is nearing its end. “And, yet, many observers assume that strength will build on strength. The praise they shower on economies in the midst of growth booms only sows the seeds of collapse—it makes national leaders too complacent to keep pushing reform and attracts more foreign capital than the country can handle. When a crisis hits, the media's love turns at first to hate.” 
 
This brief review does not do justice to the enormous work that has gone into this 464-page tome. It should be on the shelf of every global investor.
 

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

6 months ago

how India 'vikas' 'vikas' 'vikas' is debt fueled? much debt='vinash'

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