As a proportion of all deaths in India, cardiovascular disease (CVD) will be the largest cause of disability and death, by the year 2020. At the present stage of India’s health transition, an estimated 53% of deaths and 44% of disability-adjusted life-years lost are contributed to chronic diseases. India also has the largest number of people with diabetes in the world, with an estimated 19.3 million in 1995 and projected 57.2 million in 2025. The prevalence of hypertension has been reported to range from 20 to 40% in urban adults and 12–17% among rural adults. The number of people with hypertension is expected to increase from 118.2 million in 2000 to 213.5 million in 2025, with nearly equal numbers of men and women. Over the coming decade, until 2015, CVD and diabetes will contribute to a cumulative loss of USD237 billion for the Indian economy. Much of this enormous burden is already evident in urban as well as semi-urban and slum dwellings across India, where increasing lifespan and rapid acquisition of adverse lifestyles related to the demographic transition contribute to the rising prevalence of CVDs and its risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. The underlying determinants are sociobehavioral factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, improper diet and stress. The changes in diet and physical activity have resulted largely from the epidemiological transition that is underway in most low income countries including India. The main driving forces of these epidemiological shifts are the globalized world, rapid and uneven urbanization, demographic shifts and inter- and intra-country migrations – all of which result in alterations in dietary practices and decreased physical activity. While these changes are global, India has several unique features. The transitions in India are uneven with several states in India still battling the ill effects of undernutrition and infectious diseases, while in other states with better indices of development, chronic diseases including diabetes are emerging as a major area of concern. Regional and urban-rural differences in the occurrence of CVD are the hallmark. All these differences result in a differing prevalence of CVD and its risk factors. Therefore while studying nutrition and physical activity shifts in India, the marked heterogeneity and secular changes in dietary and physical activity practices should be taken into account. This principle should also apply to strategies, policies and nutrition and physical activity guidelines so that they take the regional differences into account.