Obesity, diabetes: expanding India faces big problem

MUMBAI, April 18, 2011 (AFP) – Indian housewife Sujata Budarapu was shocked when she was told that her two sons were on the verge of developing Type 2 diabetes. “It had never even occurred to me that this could happen. I had heard that outside India this happens to other people’s kids but I never thought it would happen to my own,” the 38-year-old from Mumbai told AFP.

Sujata’s children are not exceptional cases, even in a country more traditionally associated with malnourishment and chronic food shortages than overeating and weight-related illness.

India still struggles to feed all of its 1.2 billion population but childhood obesity and diabetes have become an increasing problem among the middle classes, who have largely benefited from a decade of rapid economic growth.

“Childhood obesity has definitely increased in the last couple of years,” said Dr Paula Goel, from the Fayth Clinic in Mumbai, which runs a weight loss programme for adolescents.

“This is mainly because… they’re not playing on the fields and they’re spending so much time on sedentary activities that come with the affluent lifestyle.

“Visiting the malls over the