India is well known for its love of food and variety of dishes, both veg and non-veg (as I now call it). They certainly don’t do anything by halves, “more of everything please, waiter”.
India currently has the worlds largest consumption of sugar, not difficult when you have 1/6th of the worlds population, but some what surprising when you keep hearing how obese North Americans and Western Europeans are getting.
But if you spend some time in india, you soon realise why they are the largest consumers; sugar is used in everything. I know people who berate me for drinking the occasion diet coke but then go on to put two or three sugars in their coffee!
Another example is fruit juice. Fruit juices are healthy, right? Err, not so much in India. When you go in to a restaurant and ask for a fresh fruit juice, you have to be very clear and very specific that there should be absolutely no sugar in the juice. And when it arrives, you usually have to send it back because they put sugar in it any way. TII 🙂
I mean seriously, sugar in fruit juice! It probably makes it worse that soft drinks in terms of calories. OK, not as bad as Irn Bru which breaks all known mathematic and physical laws by being made up of 200% sugar.
The same goes for coffee and tea, unless you specify, your mug will be heaped with sugar with some coffee splashed over it to turn it in to some syrupy goo.
Then you have indian sweets. Now I have a very big sweet tooth, if I didn’t blow up like a balloon, I’d happily munch on chocolate, sweets and soft drinks all day. But indian sweets are just too much for most western taste buds.
To start with they are made of sugar and they have a soft sugary centre and are coated on the outside with a sugar glaze. I think the main ingredient (after sugar) is butter, so the sweets are soft and very sticky!
So they eat all this sugar and waist lines amongst the middle classes are rapidly expanding. To top it off though, the asian genotype is particularly susceptible to type 2 diabetes, so not only is India heading towards an obesity crises on a scale similar to North America, it has the added problem of diabetes, which is already referred to as a pandemic by the WHO. Even people in their early twenties (usually from the middle classes) are being diagnosed with the problem.
And all this is hardly surprising when you consider the sedentary life styles many middle class Indian people lead. It’s often a case of if you can afford to pay someone else to a job for you, then do it – and when having a maid to come to your house daily who sweeps, washes and cleans for just £10 a month, it’s not hard to see why so many do it! Even things like ironing and laundry are given to someone else to do. I know people who are 25 years old and have never cooked, cleaned, ironed or washed up in their life! (And I’m not just talking about my sister 😉 )
When it comes to physical exercise, it also highlights why India could be on a collision course for a major health crisis. My 2nd floor apartment is a perfect example to show the differences between many Indians and Westerners. Myself and all the expats who visit take the stairs, regardless of what we’re carrying. Indian people who visit always take the lift, both up and down for what is literally two flights of stairs! It actually takes longer to use the lift than to use the stairs!
And it’s just now that I think I’ve discovered the root cause behind it all. Said one of my local friends after reading this post “what, so sugar can make you fat?”
But there may be some hope for obese India yet. Sugar prices are skyrocketing due to a poor harvest and if there is one thing the average Indian is particularly sensitive too it’s food prices.
Note: Sorry for the crappiness of the flow and readability of this post, it was written on my awesome Nokia E75 phone and transferred to my blog.