|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2011 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 91
An epidemiological study of obesity in a rural area
Prashant R Kokiwar
Department of Community Medicine, Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences, Bommakal, Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh, India
|Date of Web Publication||30-Jul-2011|
Prashant R Kokiwar
Department of Community Medicine, Chalmeda Anand Rao Institute of Medical Sciences, Bommakal, Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh - 505 001
|How to cite this article:|
Kokiwar PR. An epidemiological study of obesity in a rural area. J Fam Community Med 2011;18:91
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than one billion adults overweight at least 300 million of them clinically obese and is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. The health consequences of obesity are many and varied, ranging from an increased risk of premature death to several non-fatal but debilitating complaints that adversely impact the quality of life. Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Obesity is unique, with its own risk factors on one hand and is itself a risk factor for many other important diseases on the other hand. Surveys on obesity provide an opportunity to educate people regarding hazards of obesity as well as ways to control the same.
A community-based cross-sectional survey was carried out to investigate the prevalence of obesity and its risk factors among 924 residents aged 30 years and above selected by systematic random sampling in the field practice area of Rural Health Training Center (RHTC). Anthropometric measurements were recorded as per standard guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Using height and weight, the body mass index (BMI) was calculated and the subjects were classified into categories of normal, overweight and obesity based on their BMI.  Physical activity of the subjects was assessed taking into consideration the occupational as well as the non-occupational physical activity. Based on this, a score of physical activity status was calculated as suggested by Singh et al. 
The overall prevalence of obesity was 16.6%. It was higher in females (18.4%) as compared with males (14.6%). This may be due to higher body fat among females and the post-menopausal hormonal changes. We found that as the level of education increased, the prevalence of obesity also increased, and this difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001). Abdul Rahim et al,  also reported a similar finding. This may be because the greater duration of education is associated with lack of physical exercise and more tendencies for sedentary work. Obesity was found to be positively associated with sedentary and mild physical activity (P < 0.001). This is because these people require fewer calories but they are likely to consume more, which is accumulated as fat. We cannot find any significant association between alcohol consumption and obesity (P > 0.05). This may be due to the lower rate of alcohol consumption and higher prevalence of obesity among females.
It is a well-established fact that obesity is a risk factor for hypertension. We also observed the same fact in this study. Abdul Rahim et al,  also reported a similar finding. It is concluded that the prevalence of obesity is high and is positively associated with risk factors like greater duration of education, lack of physical activity and upper social class. It has been confirmed that obesity itself is a risk factor for hypertension.
Therefore, there is a need to control the epidemic of obesity through promotion of healthy life styles right since childhood. Others should follow the appropriate dietary practices and engage themselves in moderate to heavy physical activities.
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