May ‘I’ win the battle of Fat to Fit! A chat with Dr Kamal Mahawar on his new book, Fight with Fat
‘The only reason I am fat is because a tiny body couldn’t store all this personality!’
Nah! No one - most certainly not doctors, dieticians or fitness trainers - fall for that line! Did you know India is the third most obese country in the world after the US and China?
Of an approximate population of 1.34 billion, 3.8% Indian men and 4.2% women are obese, not including a large percentage steadily moving into the obese zone as I type!
A fact that is quite surprising given our more than 200 million underweight people.
Battle of the bulge
Fact remains, for many of us, the battle of the bulge is… just that, a daily battle! We jump onto diets like Paleo, Atkins or low-carb, every now and then.
Or different workout regimens like Zumba and Pilates! What we don’t realise is there is no one solution to be healthy and fit.
And here’s when we stop relying on assorted quick-fix articles on the web and (medically unverified) YouTube videos on how to lose weight ‘fast’!
You have to admit. When a surgeon with more than a decade’s experience of well, surgically removing fat, from people, writes a book on how to be fit – rather – Fight with Fat, you have to grant him the credit of wanting to make a difference without being suspicious of his intent to garner more patients (a typical mindset – don’t blame me).
Refreshingly, he writes without the hullabaloo of commercial fitness gimmicks.
The credentials of the author of Fight with Fat are impressive. Dr Kamal Mahawar is Consultant General and bariatric surgeon at Sunderland Royal Hospital, and Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom.
The 1996 Kolkata Medical College topper left India after doing his MS in General Surgery from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research, Chandigarh, in 2000 and did his MSc from Liverpool University followed by further surgical training and Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd) in 2010.
Unlike other Indian crème-de-la-crème doctors, India remained in his conscience. “I was born in India, studied in a charitable school, got a free medical education and I am now settled in the West, living a decent life. In a way, I feel utterly selfish and feel no wonder India is in this condition because people like me just take from her with no desire to give anything back.”
Two insightful books were born out of his restless patriotic rumination. His first one An Ethical Doctor dwelt on the rampant corruption in Indian medical systems and his second one is Fight with Fat directly relates to his expertise –although to avoid bariatric surgery.
Am I obese?
The book starts with our original benchmarks of ‘fat’ people like the sethji with a fat belly in Hindi movies (sitting behind a wooden counter) to the modern-day lower middle class obese. The author answers sad but realistic questions like ‘Am I obese?’ even ‘Why am I obese?’
The indomitable Body Mass Index (BMI), calories and lifestyle management are concepts most educated people are aware of but fail to sustain in totality. He speaks of how to go about it all.
“We only need to understand how to control our hunger and the battle will be half-won,” says Mahawar, who chose bariatrics because he felt amongst surgical disciplines, there were very few that could transform lives so dramatically and at such low risk of complications.
Childhood obesity and diabesity (diabetes-cum-obesity) are two rather alarming health hazards that are simply explained.
Why the doctor’s writing stands apart from other regular fitness books, is his self-declared running commentary on social issues when they “juxtapose with health.”
Speaking about ‘fasting’, he questions the role of “illogical and irrational customs in the name of Indian culture because they destroy our scientific way of thinking and promote irrational behaviour.”
Then there are other numerous instances where the role of the government, politicians and bureaucrats comes under his medico-ethical scanner.
What finally appeals to the reader, by way of the ‘legendary’ Indian paisa-wasool, are his suggestions for long-term solutions. It starts with recognising obesity as a disease and everyone doing their bit – be it parents, teachers, employers, doctors, food industry and of course, the government!
The fit-looking 45-year-old author leaves us with some golden words:
- I would rather measure weight to determine if I am consuming too many calories than measure calories to try and lose weight.
- Weight gain means you are consuming more calories than you are burning and to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume.
Fingerprint! Publishing; `299.
- Shonali Prakash