Lifestyle diseases making Indians heavier: ICMR

Deccan Chronicle.  | Kaniza Garari


Nutritionists clarify that people should consume energy-giving foods, proteins instead of carbohydrates

Lifestyle diseases

Hyderabad: The burden of lifestyle diseases in India is 61.3 per cent, and it is feared that the new Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines that have increased the average weight of adults by five kgs could add to it.

The ideal body weight is revised and increased by National Institute of Nutrition from 60 to 65 kg for men and from 50 to 55 kg for women earlier this month. It is an acceptable reference body weight through a lifespan. It was changed after a decade as it was found that body frames and compositions have undergone a change and the ideal weight of 50 kg in women, for example, was not applicable to many.

However, food specialists and nutritionists say that this upward revision in ideal body weight is being taken otherwise by people who have failed to understand the ‘reference values of weight’. This section thinks that it is okay to gain weight, given the upward revision.

Nutritionists clarify that people must consume more of energy-giving foods, proteins and micro-nutrients and not carbohydrates.

Sujatha Stephen, nutritionist at Yashoda Hospitals, said that the estimate average requirement for those in the age-group of 19 to 39 years was revised as there has been a major change in the diet.

“Because of this, we are finding younger women who weigh more than 50 kgs. The earlier bar made many of them starve to stay within the ideal weight and this led to nutritional deficiencies, apart from other problems. The revision is based on assessments of the present population,” she said.

But, in weight loss programmes, nutritionists say that they still rely on the body mass index formula. Nutritionist Sunitha Premlatha, said, “It is the height and the BMI index which is the bar. The waist circumference is also an indication which helps to scientifically take up the weight loss programme.”

With additional five kgs, many now fall in the bracket of ‘healthy’ as defined by the government. Experts say it is only an ideal recommended weight and must not be misconstrued. With the increasing and early onset of lifestyle diseases, experts say that it is important to control weight as early as possible. There is also a lot of need to have proper physical activity as the time spent in front of screens has increased.

With movement being restricted during Covid-19, even walking in the neighbourhood has been affected. For this reason, there is bound to be more weight gain in the younger age groups which will lead to the early onset of non-communicable diseases.

The ICMR has received feedback on the revised guidelines from food companies who say that the extra food requirements will lead to a burden on agriculture. Food companies have asked the government to reconsider and revise the weight norms.