Worldwide, Indo-Asian people are among the populations at greatest risk for heart disease. Also, associations between body mass index (BMI) and chronic disease may differ between Indo-Asian and Western populations.
As a result, the World Health Organization has suggested lower BMI cutoff values for the definitions of overweight and obesity in Asian populations.
Using these specific definitions, Jafar and colleagues estimated the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Pakistan from data from the National Health Survey of Pakistan for 1990-1994. They found that 25% of the population of Pakistan would be classified as overweight or obese and that 10% would be classified as obese.
Because of the risk of hypertension and diabetes associated with overweight and obesity, accurate identification of these conditions and healthy targets may require even lower BMI cutoff values than those already proposed for an Indo-Asian population.
In a related commentary, Anand reviews the measures needed to counteract the powerful societal forces that promote obesity (e.g., use of cars, sedentary lifestyles) that come with economic prosperity in developing countries.