Rising burden of overweight and obesity among Indian adults: empirical insights for public health preparedness

J Biosoc Sci. 2021 Sep;53(5):709-723. doi: 10.1017/S0021932020000486. Epub 2020 Sep 23.


With simultaneous efforts to address a huge burden of malnutrition, especially among children and younger women, India also encounters a mushrooming prevalence of overweight and obesity among the adult population. This study analysed data from two consecutive rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2005-06 and 2015-16, to present the burden of overweight and obesity among adult men and women in India. The findings highlight a rising burden of overweight and obesity, although the level and the extent of change over the study period varied across states. The district-wise analysis revealed geographical clusters of overweight and obesity. Further investigation suggests that overweight or obesity are not exclusive to urban areas, and economically well-off populations are more inclined to be overweight or obese. The trends and patterns of overweight and obesity in India argue for timely public health preparedness and interventions to avoid the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases in India.

Keywords: Body Mass Index; Obesity; Overweight.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Malnutrition*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health*