W2 Reflection: Obesity in Indians


There are difference gene pools in different races, and the various gene pools often have different genetic makeups which can either help or hinder the health of people.  In Nazi Germany, Hitler used a process called Eugenics to try to create the perfect children.  He would force people with what he thought to be the best genes to have children together in an attempt to create the perfect race.[2]  This was also seen in the US during the Progressive Era.  There was forced sterilization in the US of people who were not considered to be “good enough” to procreate.  This included people of color as well as people with both mental and physical disabilities.  While this movement lost momentum after a while in the United States, it did create a deeper divide in between people of differences races.  Instead of everyone belonging to the human race, people were split up based on the color of their skin.  People with darker skin were considered to be impure and dirty, while people with light skin were considered to be clean.  This had no genetic backing as basic biology was still the same for all humans.  However, it is true that certain races are more susceptible to certain illnesses than others.  Indian women are more likely to be overweight than other races, people of European ancestry are more likely to have cystic fibrosis, people of African descent are more likely to have sickle cell disease, and people of Middle Eastern Ancestry are more likely to have Tay-Sachs disease.[3]   This is due to the fact that before planes, trains, and boats existed, humans were only able to mate with the people immediately around them.  Since the same genes were passes down through generations of certain groups, a divide did occur in the diseases present in various populations.  This means that genetics, race, and health are correlated.  When interracial babies are born, this is when other diseases may become prominent, or when certain diseases may slowly phase of out a family’s genome.

South Indians, especially South Indian Women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than their Caucasian, Asian, African, or south American counterparts.  While part of this may be due to our awesome food, there is actually a gene, located near the MC4R sequence that is linked to binge eating.  The gene disrupts the MC4R sequence (that regulates energy levels in the body (that affect how much we eat).  About 50% of Indians carry this gene.  So while our deep fried jalebi and samosas might be some of the social factors that influence the weight of south Indians, there are genetic factors linked to it as well.[4]

[1] Cadi Research Foundation. “Obesity Among Asian Indians.” Accessed August 18, 2016.

[2] Black, Edwin. “The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics.” History News Network. Accessed August 18, 2016.

[3] Genetics and Nutrition. “Genetics, Race and Ethnicity.” Accessed August 18, 2016.

[4] Amardeep. “Who’s Fat? 50% of Indians Carry Obesity Gene.” Sepia Mutiny. Accessed August 18, 2016.


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