Obama Commits to Fight Obesity in India

UN ranks India as one of the most undernourished countries in the world

Barack Obama / AP

President Obama committed to helping the India fight obesity during his recent trip to the country. A UNICEF survey found that over 30 percent of Indian children under the age of 5 were underweight, CNS News reports.

Obama addressed the "issue of obesity" in India after it was brought up in a question posed by a listener.

"After leaving office, do you and the first lady plan to or intend to come to India–for instance, as Bill Gates and Belinda Gates have taken up cleanliness as an issue in India–so do you think that you would work on obesity and diabetes?" the person asked.

"We very much look forward to partnering with organizations and the government and non-governmental organizations here in India around broader public health issues, including the issue of obesity," said Obama.

"I'm very proud of the work that Michelle has done on this issue," he said. "We're seeing a worldwide epidemic of obesity, in many cases starting at a very young age. Part of it has to do with the increase in processed foods not naturally prepared. Part of it is the lack of activity for too many children. And once they're on this path, it can lead to a lifetime of health challenges.

"And so this is an issue that we'd like to work on internationally, including here in India," said.

The president did not address the United Nation's World Food Program ranking of India as one of the hungriest countries in the world.

UN agencies and non-governmental organization have pointed to undernourishment, and underweight children, as a serious problem in India.

"An estimated 32.7 percent of the Indian population lives on less than US$ 1.25 per day," says the UN World Food Program. "The country is home to a quarter of all undernourished people worldwide. Any global impact on hunger requires progress in food and nutrition security in India."

"India ranks 135th out of 187 countries in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index and 55th out of 76 countries in the Global Hunger Index," says the World Food Program. "While per capita income in India has more than tripled in the last two decades, the minimum dietary intake reduced during the same period."