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Dr. Vanita Rahman Visits Indian Medical Schools With Urgent Call for Plant-Based Prevention

Doctor Visits Indian Medical Schools With Urgent Call for Plant-Based Prevention

India is facing growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as traditional plant-based diets are being eroded by a meat-heavy Western diet and influx of processed foods.

To help turn around these trends, Vanita Rahman, MD, DipABLM, clinic director for the Barnard Medical Center, recently toured India and Bangladesh, where she lectured to students and faculty at medical schools about the importance of plant-based nutrition.

“The traditional Indian diet based on legumes, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, and flatbreads made with whole grains helped to keep chronic disease rates low,” says Dr. Rahman. “However, India has seen an influx of Western-style fast food—from burgers and fried chicken to pizza and ice cream—and Indian food itself has become more processed, leading to a dramatic increase in diet-related disease.”

In India, 254 million people are obese, and South Asians’ risk for cardiometabolic complications start at much lower BMI when compared to other populations. In addition, 136 million people in India have prediabetes, 100 million have diabetes, and 315 million have high blood pressure.

“Medical students and health care professionals are on the front line when it comes to preventing and treating these conditions, so educating them about the power of a plant-based diet is essential,” stresses Dr. Rahman.

Dr. Rahman’s tour started in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

She then traveled to India, starting in Bangalore at the Indian Institute of Science, where they are doing research on diabetes, and Ramaiah University.

India Institute of Science, Bangalore
India Institute of Science, Bangalore

In New Delhi, she visited the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), whose director, Dr. Srinivas, is plant-based; Lady Hardinge Medical College, one of the oldest medical schools in New Delhi; and SGT University in Gurugram.


Dr. Srinivas, Director AIIMS Delhi (second from left), is plant-based.
Dr. Srinivas (second from left), Director AIIMS Delhi is plant-based.

In the state of Gujarat, she visited GMERS Medical College in Sola and Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University in Vadodara. Her tour concluded in Mumbai.


GMERS Medical College, Sola
GMERS Medical College, Sola


Sumandeep University, Vadodara
Sumandeep University, Vadodara

“Research shows that one out of five deaths globally are due to poor nutrition, and South Asia is home to nearly 25% of the world's population, so the urgency to improve nutrition there with a plant-based diet has never been greater,” says Dr. Rahman.

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