Overweight, obesity and related non-communicable diseases in Asian Indian girls and women

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;67(7):688-96. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.70. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


The prevalence of obesity is rising globally and in India. Overweight, obesity and related diseases need to be delineated in Asian Indian women. A literature search was done using key words like 'obesity', 'Asian Indian women', 'body fat distribution', 'type 2 diabetes', 'fertility', 'polycystic ovarian disease', metabolic syndrome', 'cardiovascular disease', 'non-alcoholic fatty liver disease', 'gender', 'sex' and 'prevalence' up to September 2012 in Pubmed and Google Scholar search engines. This review highlights the Asian Indian body composition with regards to obesity and provides a collated perspective of gender-specific prevalence of the co-morbidities. Recent data show that women (range of prevalence of overweight and obesity from different studies 15-61%) have higher prevalence of overweight and obesity as compared with men (range of prevalence of overweight and obesity from different studies 12-54%) in India and that obesity is increasing in the youth. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in both men and women steeply rose in a Punjabi community from Jaipur. Importantly, prevalence of abdominal obesity has been consistently higher in women than in men. The lowest prevalence (6.0%) of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women is reported from South India (rural Andhra Pradesh; 2006) and the highest (14.0%) by the National Urban Diabetes Survey (2001). Although the clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors was generally high, it increased further in post-menopausal women. There are a number of factors that predispose Indian women to obesity; sedentary behaviour, imbalanced diets, sequential and additive postpartum weight gain and further decrease in physical activity during this period and cultural issues. In view of these data, preventive measures should be specifically targeted to Indian women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asians*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diet
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Motor Activity
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sex Factors
  • Urban Population
  • Women's Health*