Anita Rani explores the unexpected crisis of obesity that’s currently unfolding in India. As the country grows in global status its national waistline is swelling too. And those at greatest risk are India’s most vulnerable: its children. In Mumbai and Pune, Anita meets some of India’s fattest teenagers; many weigh over 100 kgs, including 13-year-old Kaleb, who Anita accompanies as he undergoes gastric band surgery.
In the UK, obesity is associated with poverty; yet these Indian kids are from privileged backgrounds. They’re middle class – educated, moneyed, and from the poshest Indian suburbs. Shocked by their daily diet of fatty meals, Anita meets the director of India’s first scientific study of junk food. He explains the cruel irony that prosperity is in fact killing many Indians: their bodies simply haven’t developed to cope with high-calorie foods, leaving them susceptible to obesity, diabetes and strokes.
Points echoed by the doctors Anita meets who are running some of the country’s most successful obesity clinics. There’s a year-on-year increase in the number of operations for weight-loss surgery. This even includes permanent surgery for children. For some, this is now considered the best option: not only to lose weight but also to avoid the onset of diabetes.
And now that the fast-food chains are setting their sights on India’s poorest consumers, India’s obesity problem is about to explode – into a national ‘dia-besity’ pandemic.
60 mins, BBC2 ‘This World’, 2013
Narinder Minhas & Christopher Mitchell