Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in India in the 21st century, with morbid obesity affecting 5% of the country's population. India is following a trend of other developing countries that are steadily becoming more obese. Unhealthy, processed food has become much more accessible following India's continued integration in global food markets. This, combined with rising middle class incomes, is increasing the average caloric intake per individual among the middle class and above income households. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and NGOs such as the Indian Heart Association have been raising awareness about this issue.
While studying 22 different SNPs near to MC4-R gene, scientists have identified a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) named rs12970134 to be mostly associated with waist circumference. In this study more than two thousand individuals of Indian origin participated and the aforementioned SNP is highly prevalent in this group. Internationally, a BMI over 25 kg/m2 is considered overweight. Due to genetic tendency of Indians towards abdominal obesity and its associated risk of related lifestyle diseases like Diabetes & Heart Disease, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare along with the Indian Council of Medical Research released updated guidelines (in 2012) that a BMI over 23 kg/m2 is considered overweight.
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