A new study published in the journal ‘Economics and Human Biology’ claimed that Indians in white-collar jobs, with low levels of activity in their workday have a higher average body mass index- an indicator of obesity.
Engineers, technicians, mathematicians, scientists and teachers, for example, had higher BMIs than farm workers, fisherfolk and housekeepers.
BMI is derived by dividing an individual’s body mass by the square of the body height and is expressed in units of kg/m2. The average BMI of men in white-collar jobs was 1.17 kg/m2 higher than those in blue-collar occupations; among women, the difference was 1.51kg/m2, the study showed. A lower BMI is better than higher.
According to the standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation, Individuals are categorised as underweight if their BMI is under 18.5 kg/m2, normal if it is in the range of 18.5 to 25 kg/m2, overweight if it is somewhere between 25 and 30 kg/m2 and obese if the index surpasses 30 kg/m2.
According to this study, India has experienced high rates of economic growth in the last two decades, and the resultant increase in income is related to a rise in the proportion of those who are obese.
The study further stated that India currently has the third highest number of overweight or obese individuals among all countries–20% of its adults and 11% of adolescents can be categorised as obese.
Higher levels of BMI have been associated with higher levels of energy intake and lower levels of energy expenditure. But there has been a long-term, persistent decline in the average energy intake in India, studies have shown. Given this, the rise in BMI can be traced to the rise in sedentary occupations–a natural consequence of economic development.
Archana Dang, co-author to the study says“Lower physical activity level at work is possibly one of the factors of rising BMI, given the backdrop that, on an average India has witnessed a decline in energy intake as shown by studies such as Deaton and Drèze, 2009 and Ramachandran, 2014.
Unhealthy levels of BMI are directly related to chronic health risks such as hypertension and diabetes, diseases that can have substantial impacts on household budgets, according to the study.
Average BMI among women in desk jobs ‘way above Asian standard, alarming’
The study analysed the BMI of men and women, based on the sector of their occupations, the level of activity at work and their intensity. It focused on adults between 18 and 60 years of age who worked for at least 180 days in the preceding year.
Women and men in low-activity jobs recorded an average BMI of 24.26 kg/m2 and 24.20 kg/m2 respectively. This average was lower by 1.62 kg/m2 for women in jobs that involved high levels of activity. For men, it was lower by 1.39 kg/m2.
Speaking to working professionals from Pune, Neha Dhamne, software professional says, “I have put on at least 8 kgs in one year since the time I have started working.
There is no time to exercise, the never ending work hours, poor lifestyle habits, poor eating habits and so on.. I have tried going on a diet every time but have failed always.
Rohit More, No matter how hard you try to stay fit it is difficult with the lifestyle we have.
Sitting and working for 8- 10 hrs at a stretch without any physical activity is leading to obesity in many people. I believe almost every third person is putting on weight due to their sedentary lifestyle.
Responding to these a City based Dietician Kavita said, “Adults spend most of their time at work and their occupations could be one of the risk factors for obesity and other chronic diseases.
Another reason for the increasing obesity in India is the junk food. Junk food is available at a cheaper price and often it is low quality food. There is excess accumulation of fat in the abdominal area.
The unhealthy lifestyles and increase of BMI can be a major threat. Obesity and other diseases cannot be controlled if an individual lacks any physical activity ( walking, running, aerobic ) for 30-45 minutes every day. The diet is also important and must be controlled to keep the BMI in check,
Having proteins in every meal is important. Dal, pulses , eating cucumber and tomato daily, leafy vegetables and lean meat can also help, Kavita added.
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