Monday 4th November at 8.30pm on ABC1
For much of the past hundred years India was a country that struggled to feed itself.
Now, as it becomes one of the world’s economic powerhouses, incomes are rising and a new problem has emerged. A large part of the population is in danger of eating itself into an early grave. The country is now described as "a global hub" of type 2 diabetes.
How did it happen? BBC This World reporter Anita Rani sets out to find some answers. She discovers Indian families, obsessed with the glitter of the West, are indulging their children with fast, fatty foods. In reality the problem is more complex. As one expert puts it: “genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger". By which he means some nationalities are genetically programmed to survive on relatively small amounts of food. Given too much, their bodies store fat and create a problem.
But genetics isn’t the only issue in India’s perfect storm of obesity.
Fast food companies are thriving. Major Western brands see India as the wild west of fast food. Create any product you like, pack it with trans-fats, salt and sugar – knowing you don’t have to inform consumers what’s in it.
Furthermore, there will be even fewer restrictions on the way companies can market products to children and young people.
Four Corners tells the story of teenager Kaleb, who’s 13-years-old and weighs 109 kilograms. He’s been bullied and even contemplated suicide. Adit Shetty is 20-years-old and as he tells it, he simply loves food, loves it so much he can’t stop eating. He is suspicious of anyone who tries to keep his eating in check, and even thinks the doctor offering to treat him is lying to make money.
Both young men have bought the dream that Western food is “hip”. Both face major health issues and both are at risk of dying young. Whatever happens, they are destined to make massive demands on the country’s health system.
We meet their families who are faced with life and death decisions regarding their children’s health. We meet the surgeon who operates on young people from morning till night, inserting gastric bands , in a bid to save them from themselves.
We meet the fast food entrepreneurs making a fortune while their customers keep expanding.
"SUPERSIZING INDIA'S KIDS", reported by Anita Rani for BBC This World and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 4thNovember at 8.30 pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 5th November at 11.35 pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00 pm, and at ABC iview (abc.net.au/iview).