Obesity and diabetes are two silent killers. While we are aware of their perils, we do not pay much attention to them. We are so caught up in the rut that we do not pay attention to what we eat and how much sugar, salt and trans-fats we consume.
The looming threat of obesity has prompted the Maharashtra government to launch a ‘Fight Obesity’ campaign. As its brand ambassador, I am promoting the thumb rule that reducing the frequency of eating will reduce insulin levels and burn fats thus helping lose weight and prevent Type-2 diabetes. We need to spread this message across the state and make people watch what they eat. Eat whatever you want, but reduce the frequency of eating. Eat twice a day and be sure you limit the consumption of sugar, salt and oil. Avoid junk food at all cost.
It is ironic that on the one hand, we are battling child obesity in the cities, and on the other hand, we are fighting malnutrition in the rural areas. Our diet is protein deficient and carb-rich. The time has come for us to understand the importance of protein in our life. Normally, 75-80% of our food plate is carbohydrates, and the rest is protein and fats. The mantra of staying healthy is increasing the number of proteins and reducing carbohydrates.
Schools should ban sugary, salty and fatty foods, and parents should encourage their children to eat nutritious food. If the schools and parents are vigilant, then Maharashtra will definitely become healthy.
Many schools these days convert PT sessions into extra classes. I have also noted cases where parents are of the opinion that playing is a waste of energy and time, and children should rather concentrate on studies. We fail to realise that by doing so, we are putting our children’s health at risk.
Parents are happy to let their children have food from school canteens. Have they ever cared to find out what their children eat? Food served at canteens often has high sugar, salt and preservatives content. With no nutritious options available, students are forced to eat what is served to them. They also consume aerated colas with loads of sugar and caffeine.
Parents need to inculcate healthy eating habits among children. Children develop taste very early that stays with them for a long time. My suggestion is that the schools should ban sugary, salty and fatty foods, and parents should encourage their children to eat nutritious food. If the schools and parents are vigilant, then Maharashtra will definitely become healthy.
The government must focus on creating more facilities for people to exercise. Cycling tracks, open public places and gymnasiums will encourage people to work out in the open. All the government offices have canteens, why can’t they also have gyms? If facilities are made available to people, a healthy state would not be a distant dream.
A robust mechanism should be created to spread awareness about the ill-effects of ready-to-eat food items available off the shelf. In my opinion, the government should put a statutory warning on these products that they have a very high content of sugar and salt just like it is on packs of cigarettes. Sale of food items with very high content of sugar, salt and trans-fat should be restricted. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the key to build a Healthy Maharashtra.
The author is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at Government Medical College, Aurangabad