News / Health

    Changing Indian Lifestyles Fuel 'Twin Epidemics' of Health Problems

    New research shows India is experiencing a sharp rise in hypertension and diabetes that is being fueled by urbanization, industrialization and prosperity, November 2011.
    New research shows India is experiencing a sharp rise in hypertension and diabetes that is being fueled by urbanization, industrialization and prosperity, November 2011.
    Kurt Achin

    New research shows India is experiencing a sharp rise in two major medical conditions typically associated with wealthier nations. Changing lifestyles and economic prosperity are seen as fueling the trend.

    The study, "Screening India's Twin Epidemic," surveyed a nationwide sample of nearly 16,000 participants, nearly half of whom had hypertension, or high blood pressure. More than a third had diabetes, and about a fifth had both conditions.

    Doctors say South Asians are genetically more prone to diabetes, and cases of the disease have been rising in India for the past 10 years. The country has more than 50 million diabetics.

    The executive chairman at the Fortis Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases in New Delhi, Dr. Anoop Misra, described diabetes as a lifestyle disease, fueled by urbanization and industrialization.

    “So the indiscretion in the food intake has increased markedly over a period of time. At the same time, the physical inactivity has increased, more mechanization," said Misra. "And also, stress has increased. Smoking remains a significant problem, as well as alcohol intake has increased over a period of time.”

    Changing dining habits

    Misra said the age-old tradition in India of frugal eating at home is increasingly being replaced with dining out. Those benefiting from India's economic rise have more money to spend on fast food from chain restaurants and street vendors.

    The changing urban economy also has displaced gender roles. Many people say female family members used to be responsible for preparing the simple staple foods India has long relied on.

    “But nowadays, since everybody is professional, even our wives are working, so it will be much more problematic for us to do that,” said librarian Kapil Sachdeva.

    Empty calories, sedentary lifestyle

    Consuming empty calories is getting cheaper in urban areas. Cheap snacks like sugared cola and potato chips, however, also are increasingly available in rural areas, where Indians may not have the access to physicians who can diagnose and treat diabetes.

    “And in another 10 years, we will have same status in rural areas, as far as diabetes is concerned, as we see now in urban area,” said Misra.

    As living standards rise and the nature of work becomes more sedentary, the cost of burning calories rises in comparison to India's mainly agricultural past. Longer commuting distances and easier access to transportation mean more sitting around.

    “In my dad's time, he used to go to office by his bicycle first, so lot of hard work and physical movement was there," said Sandeep Sharma, a business manager. "But now we drive our car to office and we drive back by our car only. So [too much of] less physical activities are there.”

    India's government has launched a pilot program to spread awareness about diabetes, to bring the disease under control, especially in the countryside. The task is urgent. Doctors warn cases of diabetes could skyrocket by 150 percent, in the next 20 years.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora