A study of children in cities found they are more likely to be fat if their mothers are overweight and that many Indian mothers mistook chubby cheeks for a sign of good health.
The study, conducted by doctors from India's National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, looked at the attitudes of parents towards diet and health and recorded concerns over widespread ignorance, in particular among mothers.
It found that 64.8 per cent of mothers surveyed in four Indian cities were overweight or obese, as were 19.2 per cent of their sons and 18.1 per cent of their daughters.
Dr Anoop Misra, one of the report's authors, said that many of the women were not concerned about their children's weight.
"Despite the obesity of their children they are fussing over them and if the child is overweight they consider them healthy rather than fat," he said.
Their attitudes had been passed down the generations, he said, by grandmothers who had known famine.
Many of the mothers were feeding their children with pre-packaged ready meals because they regarded home cooking as old fashioned.
"It has been handed down by grandmothers over the centuries. Many of their children were weak but once they became fat they were considered healthy," he said.
India has had problems with obesity among its policemen, in its armed forces and some leading politicians. Nitin Gadkari, a senior leader of the opposition BJP recently had surgery to remove more than seven stones in weight and to have a gastric band fitted.