India is experiencing a rapid health transition with a rising burden of Non – Communicable Diseases (NCD) surpassing the burden of communicable diseases like water-borne or vector-borne diseases, TB, HIV, etc. In India, nearly 5.8 million people (WHO report, 2015) die from NCDs (heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes) every year or in other words one in four Indians has a risk of dying from an NCD before they reach the age of 70.
Preventive healthcare needs to become a national priority. Over the past 3 decades, non- communicable diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of death and suffering, contributing to 65% of deaths in India. NCDs affect not just health, but also productivity and economic growth. The estimated economic burden on India is expected to be about $ 4.8 trillion by 2030. As the youngest and fastest growing major economy in the world, the health of our nation is a critical indicator of our future, and the health of our people will determine how effectively we live up to our full potential. The best solution to NCDs lies in prevention.
The rise in preventive screenings has led to an increase in the diagnosis of early risk factors like obesity and dyslipidemia (cholesterol irregularities) among Indians across age groups.
These are indication of the potential onset of chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension and a wake-up call for individuals to make early shifts in their lifestyle behaviours.
According to the recent World Health Organization (WHO) projections, the total annual number of deaths from NCDs will increase to 55 million by 2030, if timely interventions are not done for prevention and control of NCDs. “NCDs are rapidly increasing globally and have reached epidemic proportions in many countries, largely due to globalization, industrialization, and rapid urbanization with demographic and lifestyle changes.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India report the prevalence of early risk factors like obesity and dyslipidemia or cholesterol irregularities have jumped 50% and 18% respectively between 2019 and 2022.
The report stated that there is a 50% increase in the prevalence of obesity among Indians between 2019 and 2022. Obesity has seen an uptick in diagnosis in those less than 45 years of age by 43% and by 60% in people over the age of 45. Dyslipidemia or cholesterol irregularities have seen an 18% increase in prevalence among Indians between 2019 and 2022. This is also fueled by a significant increase in its prevalence among those over 45 years of age by more than 35%.
There is also a increasing risk of Hypertension amongst Indians over 45 years, its prevalence in diagnosis have increased from 14% to 16% in the last 3 years. Chronic stress and anxiety increase the risk of incidence of hypertension by 1.5 times and diabetes by up to 2 times. Men with chronic stress have double the risk of incidence of diabetes than women.
(Dr Naresh Purohit is Epidemiologist and Principal Investigator for Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health. The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author.)