India / 27.01.2009

By Aakar Patel Manmohan Singh had his arteries bypassed on Saturday, a procedure that increasing numbers of Indians are having. Last year, medical journal Lancet reported a study of 20,000 Indian patients and found that 60 per cent of the world's heart disease patients are in India, which has 15 per cent of the world's population. This number is surprising because reports of obesity and heart disease focus on fat Americans and their food. What could account for Indians being so susceptible -- more even than burger-and-fries-eating Americans? Four things: diet, culture, stress and lack of fitness. There is no doctrinal prescription for vegetarianism in Hindu diet, and some texts explicitly sanction the eating of meat. But vegetarianism has become dogma. Indian food is assumed to be strongly vegetarian, but it is actually lacking in vegetables. Our diet is centered round wheat, in the north, and rice, in the south....