Weighty problem of the world

Weighty problem of the world

The world has a weighty problem. I am not talking about the increasing number of people that has been adding to the mass of the population but their...

The world has a weighty problem. I am not talking about the increasing number of people that has been adding to the mass of the population but their body weight. Overall, except in some pockets of the world, people, at least some, and that small percentage is rising rapidly, are eating more than the required quantity, expanding their waist and bust lines like never before.

Like in every other sphere of life, the US claims the top position, though Mexico too vies for that spot. For American citizens as well as lawmakers, obesity is the nation’s No1 health problem. While the people are concerned about the ill-effects of too much fat in the body, the government is worried about the extra pounds they are accumulating and putting pressure on health services. Either way, it is a problem for both sides. They go paranoid when the annual health report is published, indicating the percentage of Americans who are above the obesity line. Year after year, it is only fattening without any sign of slimming.

How to make people manage their weight, like national economy, is the concern of both the American government and a multi-billion dollar industry that specializes in reducing the size of people there.

The more the people cross the OL, the bigger the bank balances of size specialists become. From special diets, pills, potions and power yoga to liposuction and going under the knife are all there. But, again, they are for the rich who enjoy the luxury of snacking on fast food loaded with calories and watch TV without moving a limb. Or, more appropriately, who choose to lead a sedentary life without spending a calorie on physical work. For others, of course, more down-to-earth options are available like walking, jogging, and running, swimming and going to gym.

Still, 27 per cent of American population is considered obese, one per cent more than last year, and diet is blamed for bodies’ extraordinary proportions. But very little could be done in a country that thrives and survives on sugary fizz drinks and high calorie ready-to-eat foods. Given a chance, anti-obese campaigners would like to see these banished from the market. But it is a far cry since cola and fast food giants are iconic to American culture. However, where the authorities have lost the heavy battle, others such as the airlines and immigration departments have succeeded through subtle and softer means.

A recent case in New Zealand has raised eyebrows and created ripples across the world. Authorities in the pastoral land have felt that a South African chef weighing in at 130kg is too fat to live in that country. The irony is New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, with nearly 30% of people overweight. When the chef and his wife relocated themselves to New Zealand from their native South Africa in 2007 none had objected and their annual work permit had been renewed all these years. Only now, his weight has become a problem, though when he first entered the country he was a lot heavier.

It is not just body weight that matters but material weight too. In May this year, Air India and Jet Airways had cut free baggage weight to 15kg per person from 20kg on domestic routes. Every kg of extra baggage will cost Rs 150. Many budget airlines flying out of India charge extra for check-in baggage. Only a limited weight hand/cabin baggage is allowed. Internationally, the maximum weight of a suitcase fliers can carry should not exceed 28kg. Reason: To lug more than that weight strains muscles and bone joints.

Airlines are more conscious of the weight of people they employ and carry. While the staff has to undergo annual medical check-up, they also have to maintain weight. Extra weight means losing it in workouts. Some African airlines are so scrupulous in selecting their onboard crew that they don’t want amazons among female staff. Economy class seats on some of the airlines are so small that they can hardly accommodate big bottoms.

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