Junior Doctors’ Symposium: The Abstract

So, at the end of this month, there is going to be a competitive symposium for the junior doctors (Interns, House staffs, Residents) at my medical school. The topic is urrgghhh… OBESITY! Not the most interesting in the world, I am afraid. The subtopics are:

  • Epidemiology of Obesity
  • Pathophysiology of Obesity
  • Assessment of Obesity
  • Medical Management of Obesity
  • Surgical Management of Obesity

Now, I figured that since a lot of the medicine and surgery residents would apply for the last 2 topics, I would do well to stay out of it, because, all said and done, one cannot deny the hierarchy in medical school. So, I was gunning for any of the first 3 topics. It turned out that my closest friend, and ostensibly, the person I am competing against in this talk-show, had his heart set on Pathophysiology: the only other topic which had some fun stuff to it. But since I did not want to submit against him (it would have meant that either he or I would have to go out, and well, it is half the fun without him around!) I had to pick between the first and the third. Talk of lesser of two evils! Anyways. So, I was pretty much set on submitting for the Assessment of Obesity, when, on call last week, I met a resident who had submitted in one of the categories and he reckoned that Assessment would be an easier bet compared to mind numbing number crunching in Epidemiology. So, my mind was changed in a flash: if I am not submitting in the best category I have a chance to crack a prize, why not go with the one where making an attractive, fun presentation is going to be a real challenge? So, I chose to go with Epidemiology of Obesity.

I know, not the best of ideas: but since the prizes will go the Medical and Surgical management speakers (since the judging panel will be loaded with clinicians), I might as well take this up as a personal challenge and see if I can make something out of this!

On an unrelated note, I have never participated in a symposium in my medical school where I have not won a prize. This may be the first time that’ll happen. Chins up, boy!

Anyways, it will all come to that provided my presentation abstract gets selected (we are supposed to submit 200 word abstracts of our presentation – somehow, I do not think that makes much sense!), and if you are wondering what crap I spouted, here it is, in all its glory and splendor, dazzling with the 90 minutes of midnight effort I put into it. Wish me luck mates! 🙂


Once considered the plight of the opulent, obesity has started breaking socio-economic barriers as it fast becomes the pandemic of the new millennium. Recognized by the WHO to be a global epidemic in 2004 (1), it has fast made inroads into the developing world as well. Except for sub-Saharan Africa obesity is rampant in all other parts of the globe (2). Modernization, industrialization, easy access to processed foods with high calorific value, change in lifestyle patterns and an emerging economy (3,4,5) have all been implicated in the obesity boom in India. However, newer data shows that the urban-rural divide is fast closing in (6). The major concern lies in the fact that an increase in obesity is also accompanied by an increase in other comorbid chronic conditions like diabetes, systemic and coronary atherosclerosis, nephropathy, cerebral ischemia, etc. which, combined, pose an incredible public health threat to the nation. The study of the epidemiology is important not only to predict and cope with the burden obesity and its comorbidities bring, but also, to find a way to combat it. With pharmacotherapeutic options getting more restricted, and bariatric surgery not feasible financially as a public health tool, understanding the roots of obesity may help in reversing the fast swelling tide.


1. Caballero B (2007). “The global epidemic of obesity: An overview”. Epidemiol Rev 29: 1–5.doi:10.1093/epirev/mxm012. PMID 17569676.

2. Haslam DW, James WP (October 2005). “Obesity”. Lancet 366 (9492): 1197–209.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67483-1. PMID 16198769.

3. Third National Family Health Survey. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences. 2006.

4. Yadav K, Krishnan A (September 2008). “Changing patterns of diet, physical activity and obesity among urban, rural and slum populations in north India”. Obes Rev 9 (5): 400–8.doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2008.00505.x. PMID 18627500.

5. Praween Kumar Agrawal (2002-05-23). “Emerging obesity in northern Indian states: A serious threat for health” (PDF). IUSSP Conference, Bankik, 10 June–12-2002. Retrieved 2008-07-24.

6. A Misra (November 2001). “Corrigendum to High prevalence of diabetes, obesity and dyslipidaemia in urban slum population in northern India”. International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders 25=9: 1281. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802030.

7. Allison DB, Fontaine KR, Manson JR. (1999). “Annual deaths attributable to obesity in the United States”. JAMA 282 (16): 1530–1538. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1530. PMID 10546692.

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