A future health crisis grows in Delhi as recent surveys find 20 percent of schoolchildren in the national capital suffer from obesity.
The findings indicate Delhi’s burden of noncommunicable disease (NCD) is set to rise – a trend observed across India, where a combination of sedentary lifestyles and poor habits are increasing the prevalence of risk factors for a host of NCDs.
The surveys were conducted across private schools, suggesting there is a high prevalence of obesity in children from wealthy backgrounds.Findings noted that eating unhealthy foods from restaurants and takeaways was occurring more frequently among the children, often two to three times a week. At the same time, physical activity was found to be less common.
Obesity is one of the primary risk factors of a number of NCDs. It is “linked to early onsets of lifestyle diseases, like hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases,” says Dr Pradeep Chowbey, chairman of Max Institute of Minimal Access, Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Rising numbers of obese people is not limited to the wealthy, or even to urban environments. Studies conducted in rural Kerala have found that the individuals had gained weight and had larger waistlines after seven years of being studied. The study — conducted by Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, along with a number of foreign collaborators — found that 23.7 percent were obese at the beginning of the study. By the conclusion of the seven year study this number had reached 42 percent.
Alongside an increase in weight, it was found that alcohol use had considerably increased among participants. This, along with diets changing to less healthy options, has been attributed as primary causative factors behind the change in weight.
NCDs have become a key cause for concern in Indian healthcare. Despite improved abilities to deal with communicable conditions, India is now seeing a wave of lifestyle based diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Indian graduate students entering the world of medicine must make efforts to do more for NCDs, said Dr GK Rath, head of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Centre and Radiation Oncology, AIIMS, New Delhi, speaking at the 7th convocation of the Yenepoya University.
Many private companies are also investing in partnerships to address concerns about NCDs. Samsung has announced a partnership with Apollo Hospital, aiming to address NCDs in low income communities at a grassroots level. This manner of campaign is an ideal way of addressing the problem, as it specifically targets those who are unlikely to be able to afford the healthcare treatments to be able to address their condition themselves.