Triple burden of obesity, undernutrition, and cardiovascular disease risk among Indian tribes

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Background Socio-cultural transitions among individuals from vulnerable groups introduce epidemiological transition, with a concomitant increase in the prevalence of undernutrition, obesity, and cardiovascular disease risks. An accepted conventional wisdom exists for Indian tribes that they are undernourished and away from lifestyle-related diseases. However, the extent of this triple burden affecting them is unknown. In this study, we assessed this triple burden among the 9 major tribes of India. Methods and Findings During January 2011 to December 2013, we conducted a cross-sectional study among 1066 men and 1090 women constituting a total of 2156 adults belonging to the 9 major tribal groups: Santals, Oraons, and Koras (West Bengal); Santals, Bhumijs, and Bathudis (Odi-sha); and Dhodias, Kuknas, and Chaudharis (Gujarat) to estimate the prevalence of the triple burden (undernutrition, overweight or obesity, and hypertension). A high prevalence of undernutrition and hypertension was observed among the Koras (51.9%and 10.6%, respectively), Bathudis (51.3% and 12.1%, respectively), and Oraons (49.6% and 16.5%, respectively). However, the prevalence of overweight and hypertension among the Bhumijs (17.7% and 14.7%, respectively), Dhodias (23.8% and 12.9%, respectively), Kuknas (15.8% and 11.3%, respectively), and Santals of West Bengal (12.2% and 11.8%, respectively) and Odisha (15% and 9.6%, respectively) was most alarming. The prevalence of overweight or obesity among the women was 10.9% and 1.5%, respectively, with 14.0% hypertensive women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among the men was 14.8% and 1.7%, respectively, with 9.2% hypertensive men. Undernutrition was highly prevalent among men and women. However, data from the past 30 years on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and body mass index (BMI) revealed that the studied tribes were at a higher risk than the general Indian population. In addition, a vast gender disparity with relation to the disease and risk prevalence was observed. Conclusion The alarming trend of an increasing prevalence of overweight/obesity, undernutrition, and hypertension is observed among indigenous populations of India, emphasizing the incorporation of a specific health management policy.




Kshatriya, G. K., & Acharyae, S. K. (2016). Triple burden of obesity, undernutrition, and cardiovascular disease risk among Indian tribes. PLoS ONE, 11(1).

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