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'Indians are not friendly to obese people'

September 23, 2008 14:45 IST

As their population grows in many countries, thanks to junk food and sedentary lifestyles, the world is broadening its attitude towards the obese. There are even contests like 'Miss Chubby' and exclusive shows.

How does India look at its obese population?

With the number of overweight people on the rise in India too, the trend of accepting these overweight people is catching up fast, with over-sized clothes and things readily available in special stores in popular markets. But, the average attitude towards them needs change, feel experts.

"The idea behind opening of such stores is to give the over-sized people a styled look which they are deprived of, I was a plus-size myself and had to go around places searching the right dress for me," says Nisha Somai of Revolution Clothing, a store specialising in extra large size clothes.

"But there's a flip side as well. Though we have designed a separate dressing and beauty range for them, the attitude towards the plus size people has not undergone change and it's difficult to change," says Ruchika Chhabra, dietitian, Fortis Hospitals.

"For years, we have been forcing the over-weight to lose weight and mounting pressure on them, feeling that they are abnormal," she adds.

A study conducted by Anoop Misra of Apollo Hospital has found out that in New Delhi alone around 45 per cent males and 55 per cent females suffer from obesity.

Not only this, around 55.6 per cent males and 76.2 per cent females suffer from abdominal obesity thus giving way to various disorders like diabetes, hypertension.

"With more and more people becoming plus-size, opening of specific stores for them is quite natural, but the stereotypes in the society have not changed as yet," says Samir Parekh, head of the Psychology Department in Apollo Hospitals.

"In India, marrying off a fat girl is still a problem, and parents have to face testing times to find the right match for them," he asserts.

Aruna Broota, a psychologist, does not feel that things in India are changing "Well I think there is a lot of stigma toward obesity, hardly any special attention is given to them , you hardly find their mention, no special coverage is given to them."

"Families feel embarrassed when their children are obese, thus adding pressure on them, the family doesn't realise it's who they degraded the things by giving rich food to their children."

Experts point out is that in other countries, gender-bias is not prevalent for the obese, but in India the gender-difference is sharp, "The pressure on a girl to be in shape is always more, as marrying them off is the ultimate goal for most parents," Broota says.

Ankita Malik in New Delhi
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