World Health Day 2023: Health Tips That Can Help Reduce The Burden Of Non-Communicable Diseases
According to WHO, in India, about 77 million people above the age of 18 years are suffering from diabetes (type 2) and nearly 25 million are prediabetics (at a higher risk of developing diabetes in near future).
Chronic stress and anxiety increase the risk of diabetes
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) killed over 60 million people in 2019, estimates WHO. Further, it estimates that in India, about 77 million people above the age of 18 years are suffering from diabetes (type 2) and nearly 25 million are prediabetics (at a higher risk of developing diabetes in near future). At present, more than 50% of people are unaware of their diabetic status which leads to health complications and at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Look around and you will notice how common NCDs are among your friends, family members and colleagues.
Mind Health and Sleep - unrecognised contributors to diabetes
Most of the NCDs are preventable; however the lack of adequate awareness or realisation among people contribute to the disease burden. Diabetes is a silent killer and a root cause of many further health complications. Today, more than ever, Indians have increased access to processed foods and door-step deliveries. Sedentary behaviours like increased screen time for long hours coupled with desk jobs have become mainstream. Indians are affected with diabetes and heart-diseases at younger ages.
We are seeing chronic stress and anxiety increase the risk of incidence of diabetes by up to 2 times. Men with chronic stress have double the risk of incidence of diabetes than women. We are also seeing mind health issues having an impact on chronic conditions. With every one unit increase in age and BMI, the risk of depression also increases.
Undetected sleep disorders often lead to chronic health conditions due to late diagnosis and oversight by the healthcare systems. Sleep apnea is known to increase the risk of heart problems and is often screened only in the obese. A study of people with Type 2 Diabetes suggests that medium to high risk of sleep apnea occurs even in people who are overweight. This highlights the need to screen for sleep apnea rigorously, irrespective of BMI (body mass index), especially for high-risk cohorts like patients with Diabetes.
De-risking the 'health of the nation'
While the genetic factors are beyond our control, our lifestyle choices are in our hands. Taking preventive measures in advance will reduce the probability of developing the disease. Three things that we can collectively do to reduce the risk of NCDs:
1. Start young: We live in an era of increased accessibility, thanks to advances in technology. Personalised preventive health programs that bring together the power of AI and superior diagnostic capabilities help individuals stay ahead of potential health risks from NCDs. Undergoing preventive health-checks should be priority. Make this a yearly practice. If you have family members with Diabetes, then prioritise regular checks even more!
2. Balance your diet: Consume everything that you like, in moderation. Food habits and lifestyle are core to preventing NCDs and therefore it is important to take note of the nutritional value of what we intake. Do not fall into the traps of fad diets.
3. Axe the anxiety: Engage in physical activity, pick up a path to wellness, and manage that stress and mind health. Listen to your body! Be observant towards your health alerts.
Preventive healthcare is the need of the hour and not just important for individuals, but for society as a whole. By collectively trying to reduce the burden of NCDs, we can improve productivity and create a healthier and happier India.
(Dr. Usha Ayyagari is a Consultant - Endocrinology at Apollo Hospital)
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