A Big Paunch Can Lead To Heart Attack, Diabetes & Cancer; ICMR Issues New Dietary Guidelines To Burn Belly Fat

OB Bureau

New Delhi: Abdominal obesity or a potbelly, is common among both men and women. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has thrown light on abdominal obesity among men and women and issued revised dietary guidelines in this connection.

Abdominal obesity indicates excess fat in the peritoneum (abdominal cavity) with accumulation in and around the internal organs, which is associated with the risk of lifestyle diseases. The guidelines state that in the last few decades, a marked increase has occurred in the prevalence of abdominal obesity, overweight, and obesity among all age groups in rural and urban areas. “About 25% of Indians are either overweight or obese,” it stated while adding that “abdominal obesity is prevalent in 53% of urban and 19% of rural adults”.

While reasons for abdominal obesity can be different, risks remain the same and crucial. Individuals with abdominal and overall obesity are at an enhanced risk of lifestyle diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, gallstones, joint disorders (osteoarthritis), hypertension, heart disease, certain cancers, and psychosocial problems – as per ICMR’s dietary guidelines for Indians.

Excess energy intake and reduced physical activity lead to excess fat accumulation in the body. Indians frequently attribute their potbellies to genetics, recalling if their father or forefathers also had protruding stomachs, taking comfort in the lack of adverse health effects on them.


According to the guidelines, unhealthy dietary practices during infancy and childhood (such as overfeeding) play an important role in predisposing individuals to overweight/obesity in adulthood.

The guidelines suggest that there is a tendency to gain weight mostly around 20 years of age, and among women after childbirth due to less physical activity and excess calorie intake. Around menopause, too, women have higher chances of gaining weight around the waistline.

The document warns that obesity is also rapidly increasing among children and adolescents and, therefore, you should be watchful during these periods.

The remedial measures include keeping a check on the waist circumference using an inch tape. This measurement is useful for the assessment of central obesity. The rule is: a waist circumference of more than 90 cm for men and more than 80 cm for women is associated with an increased risk of several chronic lifestyle diseases.

“Several studies have shown a direct correlation of central obesity with chronic lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCD),” state the guidelines.

The guidelines also suggest that you should eat healthy and maintain an appropriate body mass index or weight for height along with regular yoga and physical activity. Slow and steady reduction in body weight is advisable.

Also, reducing the consumption of sugar, salt, excess refined oil, and deep-fried and refined foods is important along with avoiding soft drinks and alcohol. To reduce weight, cut down on calories from refined carbs and cooking oils.

“Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and pulses. Prefer whole grains and millet to refined grains or ultra-processed foods,” the guidelines stated, while adding that healthy sleeping patterns (seven to eight hours every night) are necessary to avoid unhealthy eating behaviours and resultant weight gain.

“Extreme approaches for weight loss may lead to health hazards,” it suggests, while instructing “a reduction of half a kilogram body weight per week is considered safe”.
OB Bureau

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