My recent trip to India let me see first-hand the increasing rates of obesity and diabetes there. The obesity I saw out in the world, the diabetes in several hospitals I visited. I saw patients having bariatric (gastric bypass surgery). I’m an anesthesiologist, and I know that obese patients can have many problems around the time of any operation, especially related to adequate breathing and the ability to place a breathing tube.
As societies get wealthier, people eat more and burn fewer calories. The dish above, “Paneer Butter Masala” may be vegetarian, but it’s loaded with fat. The accompanying white rice is more likely to contribute to diabetes than brown rice would. In New Delhi, I stayed in the Hyatt Hotel, … lots of “big ballers, shot callers”-looking types… with lots of affluent big belly… One of my former residents, who is Indian, told me:
In fact, in Tamil, there is an affectionate term for a man’s potbelly which translates roughly as “money-tummy”… I read in the local paper there that the incidence of metabolic syndrome in adults is near 15%. How ironic in a region that faced food scarcity just 50 years ago! The traditional diet was not so rich (at least not the daily foods). But with increasing affluence. . .
Interestingly many South Asian diabetics are not obese or even overweight. My own father weighs 140 pounds with a 5’8″ frame. Yet he has diabetes and high blood pressure…
We’ve noted before the need for people of Asian descent to be especially careful about weight gain, and to get tested for diabetes. In fact, a recent world-wide report shows increasing diabetes since 1980 and states:
Mean FPG (fasting blood sugar) and diabetes prevalence in 2008 were also high in south Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and central Asia, north Africa, and the Middle East.
Diabetes is a devastating disease, which can produce blindness, heart attack, stroke, impotence, leg amputation. Exercise and avoiding simple carbs (soda, juice, white potatoes, white rice, most bread, many prepared foods) may help prevent or ameliorate diabetes. Testing is important for overweight people, because it may be silent for sometime before starting to produce its devastation by destroying blood vessels.