New Delhi/Dr.Arif Maghribi Khan
In a fast moving world where lifestyles are either dependent on packaged food or have become sedentary it is becoming tough to keep fit. With stress and other factors dominating the subconscious of the millenials obesity or underweight issues can be easily found amongst the masses. Though exercise, proper diet and gyms are always an option but then self discipline is something that cultivates slowly and steadily with time.
Body shaming is mostly an act of subjecting someone to criticism or mockery for bodily faults or imperfections. It can be about one's own body or someone else's. The statements can be about a person's size, age, hair, clothes, food, hair, or level of perceived attractiveness.
There are many interlinked definitions but two glaring examples are when one is considered obese and thin. According to the World Health Organization, Healthy is defined as a combination of three interconnected things: physical, mental, and social well-being.
Measuring one's actual health means examining how well one functions in one's own body and mind, and while interacting with others. A person is considered healthy when he/she can complete all the physical tasks required by their lifestyle without injury or fatigue, can regulate their emotions, their social well-being as well as maintain healthy inter-personal relationships.
On the contrary if all the above parameters are not met, then there's something amiss but then again instead of focusing on just body weight that is only a byproduct of a single component in health triad, the person can adopt a more holistic approach towards an overall well-being.
In many scientific research done by SKIMS for universities of Europe, obesity has been linked with diabetes, heart ailments, hereditary issues but at times it is also due to the constant nagging that leads to low self-esteem in individuals.
In India alone there were 31 famines during pre-independence and according to a research the risk of diabetes is more in those whose grandparents faced famine. A 2022 study, `Prevalence and factors associated with overweight and obesity among school children in Kashmir valley: a community-based cross-sectional study’, was conducted by GMC, Srinagar, and SKIMS, Soura.
It estimated the prevalence and factors associated with overweight and obesity among school children aged 5-15 years in Kashmir valley. A total of 9,576 students both male and female, comprising 56.6% (5416) and girls 43.4% (4160) were evaluated. According to the study “The prevalence of overweight children was 24.7% while that of obesity was 11.5%".
A common pattern that I have observed in Kashmir is that if a teen is considered thin by the society, then without conducting any endocrinological checkup by a qualified doctor he is forced to join gyms and purchase unhealthy steroid supplements. Being underweight is also a big problem in Kashmir as then the question of "Who will marry you" starts doing the round, this leads to excessive purchase of unverified products available in the markets.
Body shaming is common practice before and after marriage even amongst husbands and wives which disturbs the psyche of the individuals involved. Nowadays, a common solution for parents is either packaged food or cell-phones when their munchkins are upsets or when they start crying. This leads to formation of unhealthy habits right from the childhood.
Visiting a nearby endocrinologist is always a good option to start with, if someone is looking for a change in their overall health. For your emotional well-being, working to strengthening one's self-esteem is always a healthy start. A counselor in any government hospital or in private sector can always be consulted for better results.
As a doctor I'd request the parents, elders and teachers to highlight their kids strength and be on the lookout for ways to improve and praise their child on what he/she is good at. Hobbies and sports like painting, calligraphy jigsaws puzzles, gardening, cricket, football are always better options to start with.
Author is a medical practitioner