Having potbelly adds to risk of Covid, say experts as NFHS report cites high prevalence of obesity in Kerala

Although some people find it hard to lose weight due to various reasons, diet and physical activities play vital roles in making a difference, according to doctors. 

Published: 14th March 2022 04:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2022 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

obesity, obese
Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the government easing Covid restrictions, health experts are urging people to maintain a healthy weight as obesity and potbelly associated with it are considered to be major factors that increase the risk of severity and deaths due to Covid.

Yet, the number of obese people has increased during the pandemic period, primarily due to lack of physical activities and high intake of food.

Although some people find it hard to lose weight due to various reasons, diet and physical activities play vital roles in making a difference, according to doctors. 

“Obesity increases the risk of a host of diseases. Reduced lung capacity, increased blood clotting tendency and delay in healing wounds are some of the reasons for the increase in morbidity and mortality in obese Covid patients. Even there were instances where nursing care was delayed due to shortage of hands to attend to a heavy person,” said Dr R C Sreekumar, chairman of research cell, Indian Medical Association (IMA). He said abdominal obesity is considered morbid as it causes respiratory issues.

The National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) have been highlighting the high prevalence of obesity among men and women in the state.

The latest survey, for the first time, pointed out the increased prevalence of potbellies among Keralites (over 70% of men and 56% of women).

Abdominal obesity is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, stroke and premature death.

The proportion of adults with such increased risk of Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) increases with age, from 50 per cent for women aged between 15-19, to 82 per cent for women in the age group of 40-49, and from 41 per cent for men aged between 15-19 to 68 per cent for men between the ages of 40-49.

The health experts have also pointed out obesity in children, especially in the urban areas, due to the sedentary lifestyle followed during the online class mode.

Dr B Ekbal, public health activist and head of the expert panel advising the state government on Covid, said that there was a need to restart the school health programmes to address the risk factors at the earliest.

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk. Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in metres (kg/m2).


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