India says number of obese teens nearly doubles in five years

March 9, 2016 by Nirmala George
India says number of obese teens nearly doubles in five years
Indian teenagers eat and drink outside a street food stall, in New Delhi, India Wednesday, March 9, 2016. India's health minister says the number of obese teenagers in the country has nearly doubled over the last five years, with economic growth fueling lifestyle changes including a fondness for fast food.(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

As India gets wealthier, its children are getting fatter, with the number of obese teenagers nearly doubling in the last five years, according to the country's health minister.

Citing new national statistics, Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said 29 percent of Indians aged 13 to 18 were counted as obese last year, compared with 16 percent in 2010. Experts on Wednesday blamed a growing fondness for along with an increase in .

"Earlier, children's diets in most Indian households included a lot of vegetables and lentils," said epidemiologist Sutapa Agarwal from the Public Health Foundation of India. "But families have started eating out more often, and when they do, it's all pizzas and burgers and fries."

Meanwhile, the country is still struggling with one of the world's highest numbers of malnourished children. Hundreds of millions of people live in poverty with under $2 a day.

Nadda also raised an alarm about a related rise in diabetes among people aged 20-79, telling lawmakers Tuesday that the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey revealed more than 69 million registered cases, compared with 66.8 million the previous year and 65 million the year before that. The full survey results have not yet been released.

The International Diabetes Foundation has estimated that India could have 123 million cases of diabetes by 2040.

Rising incomes have boosted the middle class and increased demand for vehicles and other consumer products, while leading to a proliferation of Western-style fast food chains in cities.

New Delhi residents are eating about 20 percent more fat and 40 percent more sugar than they did 60 years ago, according to the Indian Medical Association.

Doctors also blame increasingly sedentary lifestyles, with more time sitting in cars, watching TV and working or playing on computers rather than going outside.

"Screen time has increased so much. Even 2-year-olds are playing with mobile phones and tablets," Agarwal said. Increasing also lead some parents to keep their children indoors.

Explore further: Study finds 36 percent increase in number of male smokers in India

Related Stories

India suspends plans for warnings on cigarette packets

March 31, 2015

India has suspended plans for bigger health warnings on cigarette packets, the health minister told AFP on Tuesday, after a committee of lawmakers demanded local evidence that smoking causes cancer.

Recommended for you

Older obese adults can benefit from moderate exercise

June 27, 2017

Moderate-intensity exercise can help even extremely obese older adults improve their ability to perform common daily activities and remain independent, according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Acupuncture may not be effective in treating infertility

June 27, 2017

Acupuncture, alone or with the medication clomiphene, does not appear to be effective in treating infertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to an international team of researchers. The finding ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.