Weighing the odds

Shameem Reza | Update:

A young man takes his weight at Karwan Bazar, Dhaka on 17 August. Photo: Shameem RezaPeople with their digital weighing machines sitting along the sidewalks and at busy intersections of Dhaka city have become a common sight.

It has also become very common for all sorts of people, young and old, to stop and take their weight on these scales.

Why do the people take their weight? Has the nation become more weight and health conscious, or is it just one of those passing fads?

Abdur Rahim with his digital weight scale in front of Bashundhara City, Dhaka on 17 August. Photo: Shameem RezaFor some, this is a sheer necessity. For others, especially the young ones, they want to know their weight to compare it with their friends. There’s that peer pressure to be ‘health conscious’ and in fit condition.

There is the health factor and physicians recommend that certain patients take their weight regularly so they can keep it under control. Mahbubur Rahman, 42-year-old fashion designer, said, “I had gone to a doctor three years ago with a chest pain. Luckily it was nothing serious, but the physician advised me to shed a few kgs as my weight was 75kg then. He asked me to go down to have 60-64 kgs. Since then I measure my weight once a fortnight and try to maintain that weight.”

Rashedul takes a young boy’s weight in Karwan Bazar on 17 August. Photo: Shameem RezaPeople sometimes say health professionals often are careless about their own health. But Tongi-based physiotherapist Nafis Iqbal is a conscious man. He maintains a diet chart regularly and takes his weight once a month. “This is not a fad. It is a necessity. I believe you can’t tell people to do something unless you do it yourself.”

Kaiser Ahmed Bijoy, a lanky young history student of Dhaka College, said he wants to gain weight. He takes his weight once a month to know whether he is doing fine or needs to change his diet.

Fashion designer Mahbubur Rahman (R) takes his weight Rashedul (L) looks on in Karwan Bazar, Dhaka on 17 August. Photo: Shameem RezaGroup of friends often inspire each other to measure their weight.

“Sometimes students, both boys and girls, come in a group and take their weight one after another. They joke and tease each other, encouraging each other to measure their weight,” said Yusuf, who sits at the Karwan Bazar intersection with his scales.

Women also come to measure their weight, but not as many as men. They are hesitant to weigh themselves in public,” said Yusuf.

Older people measure their weight during their routine morning or evening walks. The ‘weight-takers’ set up their scales in the parks for the purpose. The elderly people discuss their health, weight, various ailments and compare notes about their physicians’ advice. “That’s unlike the young people who take weight and giggle,” said the 50-year-old Yusuf.

The weighing business thrives as people become more health conscious and more weight conscious too. No one wants to fall ill. And hardly anyone wants to be even half a kg overweight. Slim is in. At the same time, modern living and eating habits leads to obesity and so there too the weight factor is all pervasive. Do you eat, drink and be merry, or do you consciously control your diet? The scales are there for you to weigh the odds!

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