Majority Indians with belly fat are at Heart Risk

THIS World Heart Day, Saffolalife released its flagship study to raise awareness of heart health in India. The key finding that emerges from the study is that belly fat has an impact on heart health. The Saffolalife Study 2018 reveals that 67 per cent of Indians with belly fat are at heart risk. The study also highlights the factors common to those with belly fat and the resultant impact on heart health.

With growing lifestyle challenges, people in India are now at risk of heart diseases at a much younger age. Some of the major reasons are long working hours, job stress, irregular meals, sleep deprivation, and sedentary routine. This is leading to an increase in lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular problems, obesity, and diabetes.

While BMI is the most researched measure of generalised obesity, the distribution of fat or central obesity, commonly called belly fat, is a far more important factor for cardiovascular risk. When it comes to belly fat, there is a lack of awareness amongst people as they address it only for cosmetic reasons and not because it is detrimental to heart health. So to create greater awareness regarding this issue, Saffolalife Study 2018 addresses the “Impact of Belly Fat on Heart Health”. One of the key takeaways from this survey is that one may be at heart risk even if they have a lean body but have a paunch.

Saffolalife and Nielsen conducted a pan India survey amongst those who have belly fat to understand the extent of heart risk. This study covered 837 respondents across key cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, and Hyderabad. Some of the startling facts from the study revolve around age, gender and lifestyle implications on heart health due to belly fat.

While 67 per cent Indians with belly fat are at heart risk, yet 84 per cent Indians who have belly fat do not consider belly fat among the top three reasons for heart risk. Eating habits which are common among Indians with belly fat are eating outside of the home at least once a week (81 per cent), eating a heavy dinner (78 per cent), and junk food consumption (69 per cent). Lifestyle habits which are common among Indians with belly fat are not getting sound sleep (58 per cent) and not exercising regularly (61 per cent).

The Saffolalife study also revealed interesting pegs across geographies:

  • Eight out of 10 working people in Mumbai are at heart risk due to belly fat
  • Eating food outside at least once a week & eating junk food at least once a week are the top reasons that cause belly fat amongst Mumbaikars & Delhites, leading to heart risk
  • 69 per cent of people in Delhi with belly fat are at heart risk
  • Seven out of 10 Delhites who are heart risk are found to skip breakfast
  • 58 per cent of Hyderabad residents with belly fat are at heart risk
  • Eight out of 10 people in Lucknow don’t consider belly fat amongst the top three reasons for heart risks

Commenting on the findings of the study, Padma Shri Dr Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital said, “The study states that 67 per cent of Indians with belly fat are at heart risk and thus this World Heart Day, we request every individual to become aware that they too can be at heart risk if they have belly fat. What is also revealed is that even if you have a BMI within the normal range and have belly fat, you may be at heart risk. It is important to be aware of this correlation so that you can take proactive steps toward heart health.”

On leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, nutritionist Pooja Makhija said, “This World Heart Day, the Saffolalife study shows a strong correlation between belly fat and heart health risk, hence managing belly fat is critical. Therefore, I urge every individual to start making small but significant changes in their lifestyle so that they can address the belly fat issue. This is easily done by eating right, avoiding junk food, exercising regularly, sleeping well and reducing stress. Start looking after your heart, eat high-fiber foods, go for a walk and get the sleep your body needs.”

In today’s age, hectic work schedules and sedentary lifestyles are affecting the heart health of Indians. While there are multiple causes behind the increase in belly fat, it is important to be aware of the possible implications, including its impact on heart risk, and make lifestyle changes to be more heart healthy.

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