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7th March 2024 (10 Topics)

The Thin-Fat Indian


The Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet, focused on the simultaneous burden of undernutrition and obesity worldwide, particularly in India.

Evolution of Health Concerns:

  • Unique challenge: The Global Burden of Disease study highlights India's unique challenge of combating both early life undernutrition and the rising prevalence of diabetes and obesity.
  • Long-standing issues of undernutrition, reflected in stagnant height growth compared to other populations, underscore the country's historical health disparities.
  • Prolonged deprivation: While recent generations show slight improvements in height, rapid development after prolonged deprivation poses risks of malnutrition, presenting a complex health scenario.

Impact of Maternal Health and Nutrition:

  • The juxtaposition of "obesity day" and "women's day" underscores the interplay between early life undernutrition, diabetes, and obesity, emphasizing the need for prioritizing the health of young mothers.
  • Importance of prevention: Research suggests that addressing maternal nutrition and health during pregnancy can mitigate the risk of diabetes and obesity in offspring, highlighting the importance of preventive measures over reactive approaches.
  • The concept of "thin-fat" Indians, characterized by metabolic challenges despite low body mass index, underscores the intergenerational effects of undernutrition and intrauterine programming, shaping individuals' predisposition to future health risks.

Epigenetics and Developmental Origins of Health:

  • Insights from the study reveal how adverse intrauterine experiences, including undernutrition and maternal diabetes, increase the risk of future diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease through epigenetic mechanisms.
  • The concept of "Developmental Origins of Health and Disease" offers hope by emphasizing the modifiable nature of epigenetic inheritance through interventions targeting maternal health, nutrition, and metabolism.
  • National policies targeting the health of adolescent girls and women of reproductive age aim to improve future generations' health outcomes, reflecting India's significant contribution to research in this field.
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