Health Awareness is a must for Indians

Top 10 causes of Death Worldwide 2015 (WHO)
Top 10 causes of Death Worldwide 2015 (WHO)

Health is an important aspect of life. A sound mind in a sound body is required to face the challenges and stress of the modern world.

However, most people are so busy in their pursuit of money that they abuse their body and mind … in their most productive years of 45+, they now start spending their amassed money on health care …

Prevention is better than reaction

A stitch in time saves nine. We need to spread awareness of simple health habits … and discipline of daily exercise, eating and sleep habits … which are mandatory to avoid waste of hard-earned money on medical expenses & services.

Moreover, most Indians have inadequate medical insurance coverage; the majority have medical insurance that is linked with their jobs …

The Good News

  • Life expectancy today is 67 years. In 1951, it was 36.7 years
  • The birth rate was 0.8 per 1000 in 1951; it is now around 25.5
  • The infant mortality rate was 146 per 1000 in 1951; it is now below 70
  • A majority of infectious diseases have been or are close to being eradicated

Health Statistics

Non-communicable diseases (NCD), principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases, caused an estimated 35 million deaths in 2005. This figure represents 60% of all deaths globally, with 80% of deaths due to non-communicable diseases occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and approximately 16 million deaths involving people under 70 years of age. Total deaths from non-communicable diseases are projected to increase by a further 17% over the next 10 years.

These diseases are preventable. Up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by eliminating shared risk factors, mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.

Unless addressed, the mortality and disease burden from these health problems will continue to increase. WHO projects that, globally, NCD deaths will increase by 17% over the next ten years? The greatest increase will be seen in the African region (27%) and the Eastern Mediterranean region (25%). The highest absolute number of deaths will occur in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.

GOAL of Health Awareness

Prevent and Control Cardiovascular Diseases, Cancers, Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Diabetes

“2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases” by Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, World Health Organization. Also mentioned in Healthline

4 Diseases, 4 Modifiable Shared Risk Factors
4 Diseases, 4 Modifiable Shared Risk Factors

People who die prematurely from noncommunicable diseases die from preventable heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancers and asthma as a result of increased levels of exposure to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol; and ineffective and inequitable health care services for people with noncommunicable diseases.

Non Communicable Diseases
Non Communicable Diseases

Today, almost 75% of all NCD deaths occur in lower-income countries. India, for example, reported over 72 million cases of diabetes in 2017. It is also the country with the highest diabetes rate worldwide. Back in 1990, 15 out of every 100,000 Indian citizens died of diabetes. Today, this number has increased to 26 out of every 100,000 citizens. In comparison, Japan – a high-income country – had a decrease in the number of its population dying from diabetes, with a reduction of 8 to 7 per 100,000 citizens during the same period. ~  Fighting the world’s biggest killer

The Bad News

  • Every sixth person who dies in the world is an Indian
  • By 2010, 60% of the world’s Cardiac patients will be Indian
  • Every fourth Diabetic in the world is Indian
  • Indian teens have the world’s highest suicide rate
  • India has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS
  • The frenetic pace of urban life has brought affluence & a better quality of life for Indians but also a destructive lifestyle has led to a host of medical crises – all lifestyle-related disorders and diseases:
    • sexual problems from over-performance at work and no time for family life
    • stress, mid-life crises, nervous disorders
    • hypertension
    • obesity
    • cardiac disease
    • diabetes
  • A 2002 national survey in India found that
    • One in 3 teenagers had bad eyesight
    • 30% had decaying teeth
    • 17% of the country’s 250 million adolescents were overweight
    • One in every 5 teens had stress-related emotional disorders
    • With 120 million urban Indians are seriously obese ranks India among the TOP 10obese nations in the world
    • 70% of the Diabetes in India is obesity-related

The Remedy – Health Care Industry

  • India’s healthcare system is comparatively low cost.
  • The healthcare industry is at Rs. 93,000 crores and growing at 13% annually
  • Easy access to health clubs, gyms, health foods, fitness equipment, spas, slimming centres, range of pharmaceuticals and products geared to a healthy lifestyle
  • The fitness equipment industry grows at a robust 50% annually
  • The nutraceuticals industry (everything from multi-vitamins, diet supplements, sugar substitutes, low-fat foods) was worth Rs. 30,000 Crores and growing

Article: “Body of Evidence” by Dilip Bobb in Your Guide to Good Health special edition from India Today Sep 18, 2006



Key Facts

  • India has 41 Million diabetics. It could rise to 70 Million by 2025
  • Diabetes is the fastest-growing disease in the world, with 230 Million people already affected
  • Diabetes is the world’s leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and lower limb amputation
  • The incidence of Diabetes is FIVE times higher among Asians than it is in white population
  • By 2025, every 5thdiabetic would be Indian

Can Diabetes be cured?

  • For Type 1 Diabetes, Emphasis is on halting the disease in newly diagnosed cases by modulating the immune system so it doesn’t progress to the ultimate destruction of the pancreas.
  • Another tack is to try to recreate the body’s ability to manufacture insulin by transplanting the pancreas or insulin-producing cells.
  • Stem cell research offers hope too.
  • For type 2 diabetes, public health messages promoting weight loss and exercise seems the best way to stop the disorder.
  • International studies have shown weight loss of just 5-7%and exercising for 30 minutes five time a week lowers the risk of developing diabetes by a huge 60%

Article: “Diabetes Unravelled” by Aarti Narang in Readers Digest Nov 2008


Key Facts

  • About 150 Million Indians are obese which is 15% of the country’s total population
  • A study conducted by the Obesity Surgery Society of India in leading public schools across the country shows that 30% of students are obese
  • Women are particularly prone to obesity
  • The AIIMS study on Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease 2002-2005 showed that nearly 50% of urban women above 25 have unhealthy body shapes
  • Experts say one of the causes of obesity in women is mental stress due to which they keep munching on food to find solace
  • If a person’s BMI is above 30 then he is obese, while BMI over 25 is a sign of overweight and a BMI of over 35 indicates morbid obesity

Article: “Cutting out the Flab” by Malini Bhupta in Your Guide to good Health – special edition from India today Sep 18, 2006



The principal environmental problems emerging in relation to cancers in Europe are the impact of smoking and poor vegetable and fruit intake. It has been estimated that doubling the fruit and vegetable intake in most parts of Europe would reduce epithelial cancers (e.g. of the pancreas, stomach, larynx, mouth, oesophagus, lung, bladder, colon-rectum, breast and prostate) by a third.

Evidence is accumulating of the subtle gene changes during the development of cancer and emerging evidence shows how both smoking and inadequate diets amplify the chances of gene instability and therefore of the cumulative genetic damage which is so conducive to the age-dependent development of cancers.

“Diet. The neglected basis for public health problems in Europe” by Professor W.P.T. James, Chairman, International Obesity Task Force, United Kingdom (Former Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland)


Every year, about 12 million people throughout the world die of a heart attack or a stroke.

Research shows that a number of things make us more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. These are called risk factors. Some risk factors are linked to the choices we make in the way we live. The three most important lifestyle factors are:

  • smoking and other tobacco use;
  • unhealthy diet; and
  • lack of physical activity.

Poor lifestyle choices can lead to three serious physical problems:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension);
  • high blood sugar (diabetes);
  • high blood fats (hyperlipidaemia).

Tips for reducing your risk

There is so much that you can do to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke for you and your family. Start by making some healthy lifestyle choices:

  • If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Avoid inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarettes.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day doing something active, like walking, gardening, or housework.
  • Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
  • Limit the salt, fat, and sugar in your diet.
  • Once a year, ask your doctor to check your weight, BP, blood fats and blood sugar.
  • Encourage your family members and others to change their lifestyles.

“Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes” WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data



Physical inactivity: There is remarkably coherent evidence that obesity, diabetes, CVD and several cancers can be substantially limited by enhancing physical activity levels. We have to reorganize our school curriculum, our road systems, our traffic policies, the provision of pedestrian precincts in town planning and the involvement of public health strategists with local government planning, so that individuals are automatically involved in physical activity as part of their everyday existence. It is a mistake to assume that one can persuade the whole population to simply exercise at weekends.

“Diet. The neglected basis for public health problems in Europe” by Professor W.P.T. James, Chairman, International Obesity Task Force, United Kingdom (Former Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland)

Health benefits of physical activity

Physical activity is probably one of public health’s “best buys” (13), having the following benefits:

Ø a 50% reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart disease (14), non-insulin-dependent diabetes and obesity;

Ø a 30% reduction in the risk of developing hypertension (15,16);

Ø a decline in blood pressure among hypertensive people;

Ø helping to maintain bone mass and thus protecting against osteoporosis (17);

Ø improving balance, coordination, mobility, strength and endurance (18,19); and

Ø increasing self-esteem, reducing levels of mild to moderate hypertension (20) and

Ø promoting overall psychological wellbeing (21).

For physical activity, it is recommended that individuals engage in adequate levels throughout their lives. Different types and amounts of physical activity are required for different health outcomes: at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and increase functional status among older adults. More activity may be required for weight control.

WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, The Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly

Overall physical inactivity is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths globally. Physical inactivity causes globally, about 10-16% of cases each of breast cancer, colon and rectal cancers and diabetes mellitus, and about 22% of ischaemic heart disease. The risk of getting a cardiovascular disease increases up to 1.5 times in people who do not follow minimum physical activity recommendations.

Prevention of these diseases through physical activity and healthy lifestyles, based on strong medical evidence, is the most cost-effective and sustainable way to tackle these problems and to support positive social development.

Worldwide, more than 60% of adults do not engage insufficient levels of physical activity which are beneficial to their health. Physical inactivity is more prevalent among women, older adults, individuals from low socio-economic groups, and the disabled. Regular physical activity, active play and sports can be a practical means to achieving numerous health gains, either directly or indirectly through its positive impact on other major risks, in particular high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, tobacco use and stress.

Benefits of Regular physical activity

  • reduces the risk of dying prematurely
  • reduces the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, which are responsible for one-third of all deaths
  • reduces the risk of developing heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes
  • helps to prevent/reduce hypertension, which affects one-fifth of the world’s adult population
  • helps control weight and lower the risk of becoming obese
  • helps to prevent/reduce osteoporosis, reducing the risk of hip fracture in women
  • reduces the risk of developing lower back pain can help in the management of painful conditions, like back pain or knee pain
  • helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints and makes people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina
  • promotes psychological well-being, reduces stress, anxiety and depression
  • helps prevent or control risky behaviours, especially among children and young people, like tobacco, alcohol or other substance use, unhealthy diet or violence



There is a vast volume of scientific evidence highlighting the importance of applying a life-course approach to the prevention and control of chronic disease. From the available evidence, it is possible to state the following:

Ø Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and smoking are confirmed risk behaviours for chronic diseases.

Ø The biological risk factors of hypertension, obesity and lipidaemia are firmly established as risk factors for coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Ø Nutrients and physical activity influence gene expression and may define susceptibility.

Ø The major biological and behavioural risk factors emerge and act in early life, and continue to have a negative impact throughout the life course.

Ø The major biological risk factors can continue to affect the health of the next generation.

Ø An adequate and appropriate postnatal nutritional environment is important.

Ø Globally, trends in the prevalence of many risk factors are upwards, especially those for obesity, physical inactivity and, in the developing world particularly, smoking.

Ø Selected interventions are effective but must extend beyond individual risk factors and continue throughout the life course.

Ø Some preventive interventions early in the life course offer lifelong benefits.

Ø Improving diets and increasing levels of physical activity in adults and older people will reduce chronic disease risks for death and disability.

Ø Secondary prevention through diet and physical activity is a complementary strategy in retarding the progression of existing chronic diseases and decreasing mortality and the disease burden from such diseases.

For example, it has been demonstrated that improved lifestyles can reduce the risk of progression to diabetes by a striking 58% over 4 years (133, 134). Other population studies have shown that up to 80% of cases of coronary heart disease, and up to 90%

of cases of type 2 diabetes, could potentially be avoided through changing lifestyle factors, and about one-third of cancers could be avoided by eating healthily, maintaining a normal weight and exercising throughout life.

For diet, recommendations for populations and individuals should include the following:

Ø achieve energy balance and a healthy weight

Ø limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids

Ø increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains and nuts

Ø limit the intake of free sugars

Ø limit salt (sodium) consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized.

WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, The Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly

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  1. MORRIS, J. Exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease: today’s best buy in public health. Medicine and science in sports and exercise26: 807–814 (1994).
    14. POWELL, K.E. ET AL. Physical activity and the incidence of coronary heart disease. Annual review of public health8: 253–287 (1987).
    15. FAGARD, R.H. Physical fitness and blood pressure. Journal of hypertension11 (suppl 5): S47–S52 (1994).
    16. FAGARD, R.H. & TIPTON, C.M. Physical activity, fitness and hypertension. In: Bouchard, C. et al., ed. Physical activity, fitness and health: international proceedings and consensus statement. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1994.
    17. WOLMAN, R. Osteoporosis and exercise. BMJ309: 400–403 (1994).
    18. DRINKWATER, B. Physical activity, fitness and osteoporosis. In: Bouchard, C. et al., ed. Physical activity, fitness and health: international proceedings and consensus statement. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1994.
    19. PARSONS, D. ET AL. Balance and strength changes in elderly subjects after heavy-resistance strength training. Medicine and science in sports and exercise24(suppl): S21 (1992).
    20. MACAULEY E. Physical activity and psychosocial outcome. In: Bouchard, C. et al., ed. Physical activity, fitness and health: international proceedings and consensus statement. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1994.
    21. SCULLY, D. ET AL. Physical exercise and psychological well-being: a critical review. British journal of sports medicine32: 111–120 (1998).

About the Author: Dr Naseem Mariam PhD (Acu) heals people using Alternative therapies for over 10 years now. Earlier, she has worked for 24 years as a Senior Software Manager in Wipro and Aricent Technologies in design and testing of applications and systems, managing large projects for customers worldwide.  During 2001 – 2003, she wrote many articles on self-development, personal health, project management, and customer satisfaction. Revisiting that treasure trove and republishing those articles. She has authored an ebook called “Project Serenity – How to gain happiness and peace” and 3 books on Lifestyle and Wellness: “Serene Wellness: Daily Practise in 7 Areas”, “Belly Loss Blueprint: Come N.E.A.R. Vibrant Health” with its companion “Belly Loss Habits: Workbook to Vibrant Health”.