Urban women more prone to obesity than rural counterparts

City Health Lifestyle Women

Those in cities don’t have much physical activity.

Obesity is more prevalent in women living in Urban Karnataka as compared to women living in rural areas, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2019-20.

NFHS data of the past three surveys show there is an increase in the number of women suffering from obesity in Karnataka. About 11.8 per cent of women in urban regions of the state suffer from obesity; in rural areas, the percentage is 6.3, according to the 2019-20 survey. Bengaluru Urban district had 40.1 per cent of women suffering from obesity and 33.2 per cent women in rural districts suffering from the same, according to NFHS 5. The number of obese women has increased in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts by 8 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

Srividya Arvind Iyer, a senior health associate at Parentlane, a digital health platform,  informed The Observer: “ Obesity is caused mainly because of family history, sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits, eating disorders, and other medical conditions. Women suffer from it more because of their body nature and sometimes because they have other priorities in life which makes them ignore their health. Around 20-25 women come in a month suffering from the same problem. Urban women are more affected because of little physical activity, smoking, drinking, sedentary jobs, and stress.” 

High carb and fat diet with little protein and fibre cause obesity.

Sanskriti Singh, an economics graduate from St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, said: “I have a body mass index (BMI) above 30. I have tried to keep my weight under control…. Busy with studies, I have a sedentary lifestyle which further adds to the problem.” She was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome or disease (PCOS/PCOD) at age 16. Since then, she has faced a lot of instances of body shaming.” I have tried gyming 4 to 5 times but never really lost weight. I have even gone to doctors, but they just keep saying you have to lose weight. It is easy to gain weight but very difficult to lose it,’’ she added.

Kavya Singh, a BTech student, said: -“It is during the pandemic that I have gained a lot of weight. I was overweight before, but now I am in the obese category. Covid has worsened things for me as I hardly used to exercise and maintain a good lifestyle in the lockdown period. I have been to multitudes of gyms and dieticians, but nothing much has worked out for me.” She is currently suffering from PCOS and borderline diabetes as well.

According to research done by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005, in Karnataka, women of higher socioeconomic status were likely to be more affected by obesity. The study revealed that economic constraints were one of the reasons because of which obesity was less seen in rural women.

NFHS Survey credits: Mrunmayee Kulkarni

Biswajit Paul, a trainer who has been in the fitness industry for 10 years, said: “Now younger girls from 18 to 30 years are very interested in fitness. About 70 per cent to 80 per cent of girls are overweight or obese. The reason is that most women are working professionals and thus have less time to exercise.” 

Rural women are active and thus it would take about 3 months for them to get obese if they ate unhealthy food, whereas it would take much less time for a woman living in an urban area.

Punith, a manager at With Fitness Gym, said that 20-25 overweight women and 5-6 obese women come to the gym. Many of them have knee pain and back problems because of their weight.

Geetha Ghaliyavar, a dietician and sports nutritionist with the International Olympic Committee, said: -“ Obesity leads to infertility, diabetes, hypertension and other health problems.” Women are usually more obese than men due to physiological reasons.

WHO defines an obese person as someone having a BMI above 30. A BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 is that of a normal healthy person. NFHS data also reports a rise in diabetes and hypertension cases in Bengaluru. Recently the BBMP conducted a survey whose findings stated that about 50.86 per cent of people had diabetes mellitus, 2.99 per cent hypertension, and 2.48 per cent heart disease. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *