The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Health woes in weight shed

Calcuttans are growing fatter by the meal and rushing to dozens of slimming centres to shed those extra kilos. But, warn doctors, if some are returning with a hole in their pockets, most others are ending up harming their health.

Obesity experts in the city blame the excess body fat on sedentary lifestyles and term 90 per cent of quick-fix methods adopted to lose weight as “totally incorrect”.

Take Sujata Mathur, who signed up with a popular slimming clinic in central Calcutta for a weight-loss programme. Priced at Rs 35,000, it hinged on a strict diet, comprising one roti with dal and only two fruits a day.

“I lost five kg in two weeks and was thrilled about it, but then I fell ill and could barely walk. I stopped going to the centre after realising how my blood pressure had dropped and how weak I had become,” recounts Mathur.

Ronesh Bhowmik, a general physician, recently treated Lalit Singhi at Belle Vue. The patient had developed skin rashes and acute hair follicle injury that could be blamed on unscientific methods of weight loss.

“When I saw the patient, he was very weak, in a lot of pain and boils had appeared on his abdomen. He had applied a patch on his abdomen to reduce body weight,” said Bhowmik.

Singhi said he spent Rs 13,000 on the weight-loss programme, but all he got was pain and problems.

Anita Singh, 45, from Kidderpore, weighted 90 kg when she went in for a weight-loss programme at another slimming centre, where fitness ‘experts’ put her on some pills that caused a severe bout of diarrhoea.

“She was fat, but did not have any problems with digestion. But after four months, she has hardly lost any weight and ended up spending Rs 35,000,” says Rajesh Singh, her husband.

Medical experts feel that unscientific methods offered by several unscrupulous weight-reduction centres are causing more harm than good.

From skin rash to low blood pressure, gastro-intestinal problems to damaged kidney and lungs (while going through tummy tucks) are quite common these days, as are muscular and back injuries caused by unscientific abdominal crunches.

“What people do not realise is that there is no short cut to weight reduction,” says Manoj Khanna, a cosmetic surgeon.

“Fat is like a bank balance and the more you consume calories without exercising, the more your deposit increases in the bank. A balanced diet and regular exercise have to be followed to lose weight,” points out Khanna.

In the past two weeks, the cosmetic surgeon has treated eight patients who sought his help for localised fat removal through liposuction.

“What all of them forget is that walking comes for free and that this is one good way to lose weight without going for surgery or other expensive treatment,” he adds.

Shabnam Agarwal, fitness expert at Belle Vue, has been treating plenty of patients with wrinkled skin and stretch marks caused by drastic weight-loss programmes these days.

“Weight-loss programmes with no balance between diet and exercises has disastrous effects. One cannot cut down drastically on diet, since a lot of enzymes in our body are fat-based,” explains Agarwal.

Doctors in the know may send out danger signals on the vagaries of weight-loss programmes, but countless overweight Calcuttans continue to seek the short cut to kilo-loss.

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