A fresh index

Written by Kiran Yadav | Updated: Nov 30 2008, 05:36am hrs
This must be the researchers favourite subject. Initially it was the body mass index. Later, a European study convinced us otherwise. It maintained that the waist circumference or the ratio of waist size to hip size may offer a better way of predicting obesity-related death than the de-rigeur system of relating weight to height. The standard body mass index, or BMI, method does not work very well for some people, such as the elderly or body builders, the researchers explained.

Well, now you can put the American and European benchmarks to rest. The Ministry of Health, along with the Diabetics Foundation of India, All India Institute of Medical Sciences amongst others has formulated Indian guidelines for the prevention and management of obesity and metabolic syndrome. It is time to reach out for the measuring scale again.

If the western benchmarks told you that you were bordering on the obesity line, the Indian guidelines may, well, prove you to be obese. How While the diagnostic cut-off for waist circumference of abdominal obesity is 102 cm internationally, for Indians it is over 90 cm for men and over 80 cm for women!

We expect the revised guidelines to benefit additional 15-20% (6-8 crores) of the Indian population. Indians have different composition of body, and that puts them in high risk for diabetes and hypertension. We need to intervene early with diet, exercise and drug therapy. It was essential to lower the international guidelines for obesity and abdominal obesity, feels Dr Anoop Mishra, Director, Department of Diabetes & Metabolic Diseases, Fortis Hospitals.

Obesity sure seems to be acquiring epidemic proportions. Every second person in the Indian capital fulfils the criteria of obesity or has excess abdominal fat and nearly 1/4th of the adolescents have Syndrome X (metabolic syndrome), which predates heart disease and diabetes.

The clinical presentation of obesity, its associated metabolic dysfunctions and their problems in Indians is remarkably different from Western population, adds Dr PK Chowbey, the convener of the programme.

Time to measure up, indeed.