Sunday, June 11, 2006

Obesity: Now and then

Around 2500 years ago, he took the most significant and of course the toughest decision of his life. Miseries of humankind, their unavoidable sufferings from illnesses and eventual deaths had awakened him to the complete futility of humans’ mortal existence and pushed him to give up all the possessions of a material life – family, friends, beautiful wife, angelic face of his son, palatial house and humongous wealth of an emperor – in quest of Nirvana. Gautama Buddha perhaps attained the enlightenment sitting at a shadowy place under the Bodhi tree, all alone and too far away to be perturbed by the agonies of the human race; however, unfortunately, human ailments, their miseries and sufferings, which actually turned him to go hermit, was not at all helped by his attainment of Nirvana. Then what’s the use?

2500 years later, Akash Sen, quite ironically, would do exactly the opposite of what Sir Gautama did long time ago. He would, rather, head back home to re-engage in the hubbub of human habitation, breaking free from all the austerity of an ascetic life in the lonely corner of a forest and would deal with one of the banes of human existence of today, head on.

Well. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of the most decietful yet deadliest health conditions of this century, that, believe me or not, is the mastermind behind most of the life-crippling diseases of the present generation, directly or indirectly. Yes I’m talking about obesity, which these days took such an alarming proportion all around the world, that a weblog post, containing a couple of facts about it , in the hope that it would leave some imapact on the issue, sounds like fighting an elephantine giant with just a pin. Anyway....

Caution: if you are a Bong by race like I am, reading this post is totally a waste of time, because, inarguably, you belong to the healthiest race that the mankind has ever witnessed, therefore, the post does not reveal much for you. For example, in most of the states in India when the incidence of smoking is on the decline and vehemently discouraged much to the concern of the World Health Organization, the bongs refuse to give up this super healthy habit as it is the proud hallmark of their long tradition of intellectual leadership and a symbol of their vigorous virility (medically virility is attenuated by smoking in general, but not for the bongs).

OK. Now back to the topic of today. Obesity.

1. What is obesity and overweight?

If your BMI (Body-Mass Index) crosses a certain threshold value, you are categorized as obese or overweight or underweight depending on the value.

2. What is your BMI?

Calculate your BMI visiting this link.

Below I give the list of BMI ranges and weight status for adults.


Below 18.5-------------------------------------Underweight

18.5 – 24.9-----------------------------------------Normal

25.0 – 29.9 ---------------------------------------- Overweight

30.0 - 35 ------------------------------------------- ----Obese

35 and above ------------------------------------------ Morbidly Obese

By now if you find yourself in the green colored Normal group then accept my heartiest congrats and I bet that you are a Bong. So now close your computer immediately and rush to your nearest ice-cream parlor to grab a triple scoop before the shutter downs. If you still desire more then this is for you from me. Enjoy!!! But hold on. If you are overweight or, god forbid, obese then brace yourself for some unpleasant truths. You may choose to turn your gaze away, but trust me, the more you ignore it now, the more is the severity with which they come back to you later. So make your decision. I’m here simply discounting the aesthetic issues of fitness and neatness in appearance which are undoubtedly compromised to a large degree by overweight; I’m just reporting the direct ailments associated with it. When I did a short google research on this subject, I was chilled to the bone marrow observing the plentitude of diseases that are caused by the prolonged condition of overweight which is so blissfully laughed away by many (I'm sure you are not one of them). The abundance of consequent health problems arising from this apparently innocuous condition forces me to list them in alphabetic order. The following ailments are either caused or aggravated by overweight/obesity. There are certainly many more.

  • Asthma or respiratory problems
  • Cancer
    • Breast
    • Colon
    • Endometrial
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes (type 2)
  • Eye problems (e.g. retina)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Piles
  • Pregnancy and Birth Complications
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke

As I’m not a medical person either academic or practicing, I collected all the above information making full use of the third greatest invention of human history. The first is fire, the second being the Internet and the third is the Google. So please sue google not me (too poor to hire the sloppiest lawyer in town), if any information provided here is awfully wrong.

This is very interesting to note, not very surprising though, that this obesity is the product of modern civilization. The cavemen of the Altamira in the Paleolithic Age never ran the risk of turning obese and therefore, perhaps had not suffered from diabetes. The reason for obesity is primarily the lack of physical work. The prehistoric men used to chop trees, lug wood, row boats, hunt animals with spears and harpoons and perform many such physically demanding jobs and thereby, could burn all the excess calories of their body to remain gracefully lithe and athletic. But now-a-days, with the aggression of large scale mechanization, the possibility of such strenuous jobs had been diminished to a very large extent, except, of course, a very few cases such as the government jobs in West-Bengal that can well be compared to the stressful lives of prehistoric men. One can never expect an employee in Calcutta Corporation or Righters Building to be overweight or physically unfit. They come late to the office, sometimes well after noontime, just because they prefer to run from their homes instead of riding buses. For the same reason they leave the office much earlier than the official closing time. And in between those two arduous workouts -- one in the morning and the other in the afternoon – they sleep in the office snoring quite ceremoniously without any compunction. So if you are not lucky enough to be one of them, you have to be on your toes to fight off extra weight before it makes inroads into your health and kills you brutally. Now I conclude the piece by listing some countermeasures against overweight. The following material was lifted mercilessly from the article contained in this link. To make the post self-contained, I reproduced a few paragraphs of it in the original within quotes. As a final note, let me add, the moment you feel tired (frustrated and disgusted) of following the regimen suggested below, you may just like to go up the post and look over the diseases that you are so far able to keep away and then reassure yourself that what you gain is much more that what you lose . I think that would do the trick. Good luck and stay fit!!

“How Can You Avoid Becoming Overweight or Obese?
The best way to avoid these health problems is to maintain a healthy weight. And the keys to healthy weight are regular exercise and good eating habits.

To stay active, try to exercise 30 to 60 minutes every day. Your exercise doesn't have to be hard core, either. Walking, swimming, and stretching are all good ways to burn calories and help you stay fit. Try these activities to get moving:

  • Go outside for a walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk or bike to places (such as school or a friend's house) instead of driving.
  • If you have to drive somewhere, park farther away than you need to and walk the extra distance.
  • Tackle those household chores, such as vacuuming, washing the car, or cleaning the bathroom - they all burn calories.
  • Alternate activities so you don't get bored: Try running, biking, skating - the possibilities are endless.
  • Limit your time watching TV or playing video games; even reading a book burns more energy.
  • Go dancing - it can burn more than 300 calories an hour!

Eating well doesn't mean dieting over and over again to lose a few pounds. Instead, try to make healthy choices every day:

  • Soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar; drink fat-free or low-fat milk or water instead.
  • Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Avoid fast-food restaurants. If you can't, try to pick healthier choices like grilled chicken or salads, and stick to regular servings - don't supersize!
  • If you want a snack, try carrot sticks, a piece of fruit, or a piece of whole-grain toast instead of processed foods like chips and crackers, which can be loaded with fat and calories.
  • Eat when you're hungry, not when you're bored or because you can't think of anything else to do.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  • Don't eat meals or snacks while watching TV because you'll probably end up eating more than you intend to.
  • Pay attention to the portion sizes of what you eat.

What Can You Do If You Are Overweight or Obese?
Before you start trying to lose weight, talk to a doctor, a parent, or a registered dietitian. With their help, you can come up with a safe plan, based on eating well and exercising. Remember that teenagers need to keep eating regularly. Don't starve yourself because you won't get the nutrients you need to grow and develop normally.

You may also want to keep a food and activity journal. Keep track of what you eat, when you exercise, and how you feel. Changes can take time, but seeing your progress in writing will help you stick to your plan. You might also want to consider attending a support group; check your local hospital or the health section of a newspaper for groups that meet near you. Above all, surround yourself with friends and family who will be there for you and help you tackle these important changes in your life.”


Blogger Anwesha Chatterjee said...

Whoa!!! This is seriously scary!!! Also, very very true!

Monday, June 12, 2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Akash said...

Hmm… But in an Indian context, we are faced with an unusual scenario. A randomly picked up Indian is either underweight or overweight. Like a double edged sword. Our life-expectancy is also short. Our average height is also smaller than the people’s in the West. Are we genetically inferior? Is this the reason that we cannot win a medal in the Olympics? Is this the reason that we cannot expect to qualify for World Cup football ever? What I discovered in the process in amazing. I just give you one example that I find interesting. I can give you more. In the last half of the past century it is noticed that that the average height of the Japanese who are traditionally short has increased dramatically. One more example, it is also noticed that the average height of the South Koreans has gone up to a good extent against the poor North Koreans in the last fifty years (they are ethnically same). I dig out that this is all because of modern medicines and nutrients that are accessible to the peoples of those countries. I don’t talk about the Europeans. They have done wonders in medical sciences, perhaps unimaginable to average Indians. It’s time we Indians stopped looking up to our beloved Gods and Goddesses and hoping that something wonderful would magically happen someday for our benefits. Note that in 1983, in football we were almost at the same level with South Korea. But today South Korea is playing World Cup and I, before the TV set, is clapping for them with my South Korean friends. Yes, this is of course due to the interference of God and that God is science.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Akash said...

P.S. Please note that today is a golden day for Indian Soccer. Today Vikash Dhorasoo, a French national of Indian origin played in a World Cup football match. To me this is a landmark event. It says a lot of things.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger Anwesha Chatterjee said...

So this Vikas fella was not brought up in India but in France and hence had access to European school of medicine and health system and hence was fit enough to compete against the best?

So, we don't even have to wait for one generation to reap the benefits of advanced health care!

Akash! You are inspiring me!!! I shall immediately make arrangements to settle in the West and my son/daughter shall win a ATP/WTF Grand Slam SINGLES soon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 6:34:00 AM  
Blogger Akash said...

So this Vikas fella was not brought up in India but in France and hence had access to European school of medicine and health system and hence was fit enough to compete against the best?

You can’t be more correct. I watched that Vikas guy play. Indianness is all over his body. By any stretch of the imagination I can’t see him reaching these dizzying heights had he been in India. He is of course supremely talented. Remember this is the French national team. An erstwhile champ. Not Japan or Korea or Iran or Togo who are always underdogs in World cup football. But a talent needs to be nursed, tended, cared for and very very importantly needs to be pampered too. Such scopes in general, very sadly, are not present in India at the moment.

Akash! You are inspiring me!!!

Lady, so now I formally baptize you as my first disciple who has just gone into the history. When the number hits one million, I will publicly declare myself the messenger of the God and officially declare my religion. It’s been a long time we did not see a new religion. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Rama have all gone out of fashion. God has sent me on a special mission which, for the sake of a confidentiality agreement that I presently have with the God, I’m unable to disclose. Sorry about that.

I shall immediately make arrangements to settle in the West..

“… I will be right (t)here waiting for you....”

But.. hey...don't hurry ... If you slip and ankles twist..ouch!! ...

my son/daughter shall win a ATP/WTF Grand Slam SINGLES soon!

Nooo. My kid will be the champ. Please please…I will die of shock if my kid loses to somebody else’s.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:16:00 PM  

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