Living in America, it's not shocking to walk down the street and see rippling thighs and galumphing bellies on passers by. Much of this I blame on our McDonald's mentality, but the problem also stems from the fact that we are a hurried culture with little time to sit down and plan healthy meals. Not to mention our fat-laden quickie food industry which concerns itself more with turning a profit than nourishing its customers.
I was taken aback, however, when I read an alarming statistic about India: 22 percent of city-dwelling Indians are overweight and seven percent of them are actually obese, according to a study from the Universityof Maryland.
What? In my mind, India has always been the epitome of health. After all, it's mostly vegetarian, there's no beef, and lots or readily available fresh veggie ingredients. What's not to love? So why are Indians, like Americans, getting fat? The reasons are complex, to be sure, but three spring to mind right away:
1.) The Desire to Be “wealthy and healthy”:
According to an investigative report by the BBC, a robust Indian represents wealth and health, two hot commodities in a country where many people are living below the World Bank poverty line. To make matters worse, India's poorly regulated fast food industry puts Indians at increased risk for a devastating, obesity-related disease they are already genetically predisposed to: diabetes.
2.) Less Moving, More Sitting:
India's major modes of transportation used to be walking and/or bike riding. In the last few decades, however, automobiles have taken over. A Business Standard report indicates that car sales are up and bike sales are down in India, affording citizens more convenience but also, alas, less exercise.
3.) McDonald's Bastardization:
The Free Dictionary defines “bastardize” as the "lowering of quality or character.” Bingo. American-originated fast food joints like McDonald's are stretching their greasy tentacles into India and much of the rest of the world, it seems. According to a recent NPR report, McDonald's is not found in 105 countries of the world. It is, however, up and running in 119 other countries, now including India.
Maybe Indians are getting fat for the same reason that American vegetarians who slurp down Wendy's Frosty's and A&W cheese curds while speeding down the highway in their Chevrolets are gaining weight. The diet might be vegetarian, but it's certainly not healthy. When fast food becomes the norm, when people stop exercising, and when it's socially accepted to be anywhere from chubby to corpulent, it's a problem, no matter what country you're in.
Image via Flickr by Koshyk