Thursday, September 13, 2018

Alarming rise in risk factors for non-communicable diseases in India in the last 25 years

Physical activity, healthy diet, and quitting smoking and drinking are the three pillars for prevention

New Delhi, 13 September 2018: A recent study has indicated that the risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have increased in every Indian state over the past 25 years. NCDs including heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancers and injuries, are now the leading causes of death worldwide. However, their co-existence with infectious diseases is leading to a “double burden” in less developed states still battling infections like diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections and tuberculosis, among others.

The Union health ministry is expanding its NCDs programme by promoting early screening, diagnosis and treatment under the 150,000 health and wellness centres being set up by 2022. There is a need for India to invest in improved surveillance systems to monitor changing trends in NCDs and injuries, and related risk factors, across the country.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), said, “Along with tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet, physical inactivity has also been implicated in NCDs as a major risk factor. All these are behavioral risk factors and are modifiable through lifestyle changes. Modern and advanced technology has certainly made life easy and convenient for us – online shopping, online payments, accessing information, etc., all of which can be done from the comfort of our homes. But, has technology really made our life better? What it has also done is change our lifestyle pattern at the cost of health; we are less physically active now – sitting at a desk for a long time working on the computer, using social media on smartphones, watching TV or sitting in a meeting, all these activities promote sedentary behavior.

NCDs currently account for almost 70% of global deaths; majority of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. India too is not untouched by this.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Getting people to move more is a key strategy for reducing the burden of NCDs, as outlined in WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. White collar workers or people who have desk jobs spend most of their working hours sitting in chairs. Interventions that encourage walking and physical activity in the workplace are needed to counter the negative health effects of sedentary behavior.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Develop healthy habits including eating, sleeping, and exercising right.
  • Do not overdo anything. From drinking to using the cell phone, everything must be in moderation.
  • Follow ancient wisdom. Do Yoga and Meditation for your mental and spiritual wellbeing and maintain equilibrium. Allow your body to heal itself.
  • Get periodic check-ups done. Early detection of most health problems can help in correcting lifestyles to slow the degeneration process and lead a longer and healthier life.
  • Both active and passive smoking are harmful for the body.
  • Manage your blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as blood sugar.
  • Maintain optimum body weight. Limit your salt intake.

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