Lahore is growing…in waist lines!

I must admit I always step out from the International Arrivals at the magnificent Lahore Airport with a certain amount of trepidation. The primary reason being that my weight (lack of) always prompts the first piece of dialogue between me and my family/friends. It usually follows a compassionate tone by my family as to the utter lack of care that I must have been subjected to back in London.

The interesting fact is that the subject of my weight-lessness has now become the norm. Apparently, the claim is that I keep on losing weight on each successive trip. Well surely this can’t be true…because if it were, then I wouldn’t be alive writing about all of this. This prompted me to really ponder over the whole weight issue in context of Lahore and it led to some interesting learning.

I am sure you’ll agree that appearance is generally in the eye of the beholder. So while I may be perfectly fit and strong for one person, I might be extremely thin and weak for another. The reality in Lahore tends to be the latter. In my view, this is down to the fact that Lahoris have become so used to seeing bulging waist lines that anyone with non-portruding gut is regarded either ill or abnormal.

On closer analysis, I did notice an abundance of people in the city with high weight levels with respect to their heights. Whilst I didn’t weight all of them (would have made for an interesting conversation though), my naked eye could judge the fact they were well beyond the normal threshold. Some could argue that I am on a fat-bashing campaign here but I am not. I am simply fearing for these people as their weight due mostly due to an over-indulgent lifestyle will lead to serious long term diseases like heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure.

So what needs to be done?

For one, we really need to educate people that over eating is unhealthy. Did you know there is scientific evidence to prove that the South Asian population of India and Pakistan are more susceptible to pulmonary diseases than other races. So we should all try to avoid fatty foods and make an effort to include boiled vegetables and fresh fruits in our diets. No health regime is complete without physical exercise. Set a target to walk, jog or if you’re lucky to have access to a sports centre, join a sports team. You will find yourself feeling more energetic at work and less stressed in general.

On a personal note, I have recently taken up cycling after a 15 year gap. Now that I am back on the rode, I can’t imagine why I hadn’t taken up cycling before. Not only am I saving up on petrol but I am also getting fitter with more stamina. Cycling in our part of the world is treated as the domain of either children or servants. It needn’t be…go and change this view.

5 Comments so far

  1. ahsenjaffer on May 29th, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

    Its funny, I had quite a similar experience. So many people complained that I am weak. Interesting that people might wrongly relate chubbiness with being healthy.

    The life style of Lahore’s middle-class in general can be compared to a millionaire’s in any Western country, given there are servants for doing any and every labor intensive work. That might have something to do with people growing in waist lines?

  2. Hasan Mubarak (hasanmubarak) on May 29th, 2008 @ 10:42 pm

    I would attribute this problem to the lack of entertainment options for the youth and old of Lahore alike. What do Lahoris generally do for fun? Go for a walk? Have a swimming lesson? or just go the newest eatery in town?

    In addition to this, Lahore IS famous for its food which when combined with the factor described earlier has unfortunately become the core reason for the unhealthy lifestyles of people in this city.

  3. lifeofmansur on May 30th, 2008 @ 12:47 am

    I think a lot has to do with the mindset….the heavier you are, the healthier you are. Why do you think Punjabi men like heavy women on the big screen? It’s the mindset, and a sign of wealth, if you on the heavier side. Have you not seen how Lahoris attack a wedding meal? Have you not seen how Lahoris scramble for free food and drink? It’s somehow inbuilt in the minds that we Lahoris have to eat no matter what! Clearly, an education campaign needs to be launched, which will be a very arduous task since educational campaigns rarely have any effect on any Pakistanis! Just like its impossible to encourage people to stop littering, it’s difficult to tell people to eat sensibly and exercise…

  4. Faraz Khalid (lah_faraz) on May 30th, 2008 @ 12:51 am

    azface: good work :) and welcome to LMB!!!

    The article and both the comments are pretty insightful. There are multiple reasons for Lahori’s being fatter (or becoming fatter for that matter…. hmmm that rhymes:)… too much of good oily fatty food, too many "helpers" to do the manual work such as washing, cooking, gardening, bringing groceries from the market, too little avenues to go out (except for food), complete lack of the concept of "walking" among middle class (even to get to a store 300 meters away, we usually drive), lack of exercise culture, plus the fact that we almost completely give up all types of outdoor sports at the age of 35… well… if we dont get fat (and generally frustrated) people then who would?….

    i personally am not fat (or frustrated, thank God), but thats probably purely a result of extraordinary metabolism (thank God again), rather than my own routine… i think even more than education, we need avenues for healthy entertainment in our society.

  5. skindeep on June 23rd, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

    Its an interesting issue to feature health concerns here on "lahore waistline".It not just focused on the city but the people as well…the lifestyle,the indulgence and entertainment. I`m a Filipino based in Japan and I must admit to you that being skinny and so-called "underweight" is a trend in Japan as well as other South-east asian countries. Being slim is a sign of health and longevity and most East Asian cuisine are steamed and boiled. It is a must to educate people and to differentiate what is good and what is bad foods. These people should be taught about including vegetables and fruits in their diet and of course physical activity for better blood circulation. Being fat is ugly and unhealthy and it can contribute to high blood pressure and diabetes. A healthy lifestyle should be featured on TV too instead of talking about terrorism and corruption. An educational show regarding to health should be establish so that people will observe how to eat healthy.
    I have a small frame body and people will often mistake me as ill or anorexic but I proudly tell them Ive never ever been admitted to a hospital for any disease. Outdoor activities sush as walking should be encouraged too. I hope my reply here can make a difference in your city

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