“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism.” Karl Marx’s tiny book, The Communist Manifesto begins with these famous words. The spectre of Communism is no longer haunting Europe. But a markedly dissimilar one has been haunting the well to do of the entire world, not merely that of Europe, for quite some time now – the mania for weight loss. The ad world is taking full advantage of the corpulent men’s and women’s hankering for slimming down and has been doing overtime to spread the message of how one could get trimmed and toned. Newspapers and television channels are replete with the ads of various products, promising instant loss of flab. The well to do, if I discount the junk food eating variety, is now careful about their food habits because they want to remain trim. They don’t want their bellies to sag half way down to their knees. For they fear that several illnesses are the upshot of obesity.
During my boyhood, I had often come across ads in newspapers and magazines of a certain tonic that guaranteed instant weight gain. Yes, weight gain. The ads showed two men, one very skeletal and skinny and the other with a brawny body – before and after the tonic for a month or thereabouts. Radio channels – television was not even a gleam in your eye then - were abuzz with ads of this restorative. Now it is the other way around. Such ads about putting on weight have become anachronistic for none wants to put on weight now but shed the flab they have accumulated thanks to their leading a sedentary lifestyle. Had he been our contemporary, Julius Caesar’s would have said, ‘Let me have men about me that are lean.’
Yoga’s unprecedented popularity can be attributed to the practitioners’ conviction that this ancient discipline of exercises and meditation is proved to have helped the practitioner to slim down, but be that it may, you can’t overlook the significance of heredity. Science has shown that Genetics play a key role in this. If your forebears were obese you are likely to become so.
Whenever some acquaintances of mine meet me after the gap of say, a month or two, they would say ‘Oh, you seem to have pulled down; what is the matter?’ Fed up of hearing this refrain, a couple of months ago, I was waiting to see our family doctor with a view to asking him as to what should I do to put on some weight. When my turn came, I was ushered to his consulting room. Looking at me he said smilingly, ‘Well, you look trim and healthy. What brings you here?’ As these words greeted me, I found myself tongue-tied momentarily.
“Doctor, what has brought me here is my concern for being underweight. But your words, it seems, have made my coming here uncalled for.” However, before leaving I thanked him profusely as his words helped me to gain a euphoric feeling of well-being.
We live in a bizarre world. There are people – weight loss maniacs among the well healed - who often skip meals despite having enough to eat. And there are multitude of people, children among them, who can’t, at times, even dream of a single meal, leave alone three which the haves usually partake of.