Founder President Message

My weight in 1960 was really unbearable. I had touched 220 lbs. I would get out of breath walking uphill to my residence on Peddar Road. I was also suffering from bronchial asthma, which added to the trouble and made matters worse.

Then I decided to reduce weight and my then teacher, late. Dr.Murzban Motashaw, guided me properly. When I succeeded and reduced my weight, and maintained it for four years, I opened an obesity clinic in 1964. This was perhaps the first obesity clinic in India.

At that juncture, everybody beleived that dieting meant starvation and exercise is the only solution for obesity, not realising that strenuous exercise may damage the heart and the weight bearing joints, which are already overburdened in an obese individual. For it is calculated that 14 kg. extra weight doubles the load on the heart and the body.

I have beleived, practiced and preached at every opportunity that dieting is not synonymous with starvation and it is the caloric density of diet that needs to be reduced, not necessarily the quantity. Of course, a judicious combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle modification is required for successful weight loss and maintenance. Over the years, people have eventually recognized that obesity is a disease and has to be treated scientifically. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain to be addressed.

It is generally believed that in India only undernutrition is rampant and obesity is rare occurrence. This is far from truth as a year 2000 national survey showed that 25% men and 36% women above 20 years of age were overweight. It is disconcerting that in 1995 19 million indians had diabetes and the number rose to 31 million in 2000. Obesity has a tremendous medical, social and economic impact on individuals and society as a whole. The prevalence of this chronic disease is likely to rise further unless concerted efforts are made at individual and social and environmental levels to treat and prevent obesity. To make matters worse, like cancer, obesity suffers from a relative lack of effective treatment. Quacks take advantage of this and try to steer away people from legitimate medical treatment. In addition, medical schools curriculum does not emphasize training in nutrition and related conditions. Therefore, multipronged approach is required to manage obesity, which will include the expertise of a team of health care professionals such as physicians, dieticians, exercise physiologists, psychologists and surgeons. This prompted the need to bring the health care professionals together to fight this epidemic.

Thus, AI AARO was founded to:

Bring healthcare professionals from various expertise and backgrounds together under one umbrella for treating obesity more effectively.
To provide a forum for disseminating up to date scientific information to health professionals and people.
To fight quackery by informing people and health professionals about obesity.
To provide a forum to encourage research in obesity.

Since the inception of All India AARO, six obesity camps were held to detect and treat obesity. Five conferences were held in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

A six weeks obesity management course was held in 2003 from 6th March through April. It was on 6 sundays to facilitate doctors and dieticians to attend. The response was very good. One hundred registrants attended this course. We continue to receive eager enquiries for the next course very frequently.

Effective fight against increasing prevalence of obesity will require more and more trained doctors and other health care professionals involved in weight management. But since obesity and its treatment are receiving a step-motherly treatment from the authorities in position, All India AARO is trying to setup a chair in weight management in the university to train doctors for the job, who would treat obesity scientifically. The requirements would be a generous sponsor and the desire to improve the cirriculum, which though is a dream today, will be realized with the concerted efforts of all concerned.

So the task before AI AARO is:

To establish a postgraduate diploma in weight management and later a degree in the same, which will ensure proper treatment of future obese patients.
Offer frequent lectures and seminars.
Conduct camps to detect obesity incidence in different areas.
Start new chapters nationwide and not restrict to Mumbai alone.
Offer weight management training courses.
To work with the news media to help people select the wheat from the chaff.
Encourage eating places to offer low calorie foods options.
To establish funds that could be provided as seed money for various deserving research projects in the field of obesity.

All these are really Herculean tasks and AI AARO, should be able to achieve it by and by; and I trust it will come up to the mark as the old guard is giving way to new and energetic managing committee members. The path is daunting, but the AI AARO team is ready to take on the challenge. For the new managing committee emerges with Dr. Ramaben Vaidya as the president and Dr. Ramen Goyal, Dr. Shashank Joshi our indefatiguable members along with others.

I want to thank my colleagues and past and present members of the managing committee who provided their selfless support, and countless numbers of voluntary hours to shape AI AARO during its early formative years. I wish the new managing committee, and our members good luck in their efforts to carry the baton. I am glad that my asthma proved to be really a blessing in disguise.

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