Oh yes we are!!! According to a new international study.

There are not a lot of studies that cover Pakistan unless they are related to poverty or terrorism or women’s rights. However, recently a very interesting study with a slightly different focus was conducted which also included Pakistan. It was a study on obesity.

This the Global Burden of Disease Study, which covered 188 countries, was carried out by and published in The Lancet medical journal.

The results were astonishing; Pakistan was ranked 9th out of the 188 countries in terms of obesity. Aur Khao Pakoray!!

The list of most obese countries is led by America, followed by China and India at number two and three, respectively.

The other top 10 ‘winners’ include: Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

According to the study, today approximately 2.1 billion people in the world are obese or overweight.

It is quite striking that a country as poor as ours could be number nine on such a  list, but according to Christopher Murray, the director of the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation,

Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere… In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis.

The problem is not just about being obese; people who are overweight are more likely to be more prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and kidney disease. This in turn puts a lot of strain on a country’s healthcare system, and for a country like ours where public healthcare is virtually crippled and private health care extremely expensive; obesity is literally too heavy a burden to bear.

Another striking finding from the study is that over the last few years, the number of obese and overweight adults grew by 28 percent, whereas the number of obese children grew by a whopping 50 percent!!

Is there a Solution for Pakistan?

Perhaps.  However, what is needed is a drastic change in our national mindsets and lifestyles in order to bring this problem into control.

It is a serious matter of concern that when many Pakistanis see an obese child they call the child ‘healthy’; when a youngster declines seconds during dinner he or she is told ‘yahi to khaane ke din hein’. Also amongst the elderly generation, words such ‘exercise’ are considered taboo. It is taken for granted that once you reach the age of retirement you should just sit on the couch all day and drinking tea and reading the newspaper.

If we don’t change these mindsets and fast, as well as our love of oily and fried foods, you can easily expect us to move up a few positions the next time such a study is carried out.