Rising trend of overweight and obesity among urban people, especially women, is emerging as a serious health concern in Bangladesh, show study reports.
Around 17 percent of adults are overweight and 4 percent of them obese in the country, as obesity rose to 4 percent in 2013 from 2 percent in 1980, says a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in the US.
Fifty-two percent mothers are overweight and 15 percent of them obese, shows a 2013 icddr,b survey conducted on children between five and 18 years and their mothers in all seven divisional headquarters.
Of the children, 14 percent were overweight and four percent obese, found the survey by the Centre for Control of Chronic Diseases at the icddr,b.
However, prevalence of overweight among the children was 27 percent in the richest quintile but it was only 3 percent in the poorest quintile.
“Dhaka and Chittagong cities have the highest proportion of overweight mothers and children,” said icddr,b Associate Scientist Dr Aliya Naheed who was in the study team.
Though the survey didn’t include male adults, it could be assumed that their condition would be almost similar to that of the women, said the researcher.
Overweight is defined as having body mass index (BMI) or weight-to-height ratio greater than or equal to 25 and lower than 30, while obesity is defined as having BMI equal or higher than 30.
Obese and overweight people have higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, liver and gallbladder diseases, and respiratory problems.
In 2010 alone, obesity and overweight were estimated to have caused 3.4 million deaths globally, mostly from cardiovascular causes, according to the IHME study published in the UK-based medical journal The Lancet.
Experts say excessive intake of calorie-rich food and less physical activity are major reasons behind overweight and obesity among urban people.
Prof AK Azad Khan, president of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh, said even children are getting used to fast food and cold drinks rich in sugar and calories, but no cautionary guidelines are there from the authorities.
There is little scope for city dwellers to take a walk as most footpaths are occupied by street vendors. Even children are deprived of physical exercise since most schools don’t have playgrounds.
Dr Aliya suggested introducing healthy lifestyle in schools and a healthy dietary guideline for all.
“Urban planners have a great role to play. There could be a separate lane for bicycles to facilitate physical exercise,” she said.
Sounding a note of caution, Dr Aliya said the number of obese people is likely to rise in developing countries, including Bangladesh.
Dr Amirul Hassan, line director of Non-communicable Disease Centre (NCDC) at the Directorate General of Health Services, said the health ministry, with the help of other ministries, is drawing up a national strategy with guidelines on a healthy lifestyle and prevention of NCDs.
“We can create more awareness and take action based on the strategy,” said Dr Amirul.
Many city dwellers have blamed lack of facilities for physical exercise for their obesity.
Seeking anonymity, a 34-year-old banker, who lives in the capital’s Banashree area, said she gained weight consistently for the last few years. But there is no park in the area where she can do exercise in the morning.
“It is difficult for me to do exercise after I return from office … I have to take care of my child. My husband often pokes fun at me because I’m fat. It’s painful for me,” said the mother of a child.
She is worried that she might get diabetes soon if she fails to lose weight.
Source: Daily Star