While the conveniences that we have access to in our everyday lives have been a boon to us, making our lives more comfortable, they have come with their own set of problems, namely in the impact on our health. Our increasing usage of vehicles at the cost of walking and other physical activities performed by our ancestors, while indulging in more strenuous mental activity, have led to the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases.
According to some reports, 75 per cent of the global population suffers from some lifestyle disease or the other, with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease being the most common.
These lifestyles diseases are caused both by our changing lifestyle as well as diet- from the traditional, to food rich in fat, sugar, salt, carbohydrates and refined starches, leading to obesity, which in turn leads to the growing incidence of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
In India, about 70 per cent of the urban population is reported to fall in the obese or overweight category.
Obesity figures in the country are at a staggering 70 million. In India 70 per cent of India’s urban population comes in obese or overweight category, with as many as 20 per cent of school-going children being obese.
As per the body mass index of the body, 25 per cent total body fat in men and 30 per cent total body fat in women is considered as obesity. Being overweight increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, which is turn could cause other complications such as high BP, heart attacks, brain strokes, blindness, kidney failures and nerve damages with amputations. Increased body fat also leads to increased triglycerides, bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. High level of LDL and low level of HDL are major causes of atherosclerosis which results in narrowing of blood vessels leading to heart attack. In India, 26 per cent of all deaths happen due to cardiovascular diseases.
Obesity could also cause obstructive sleep apnea, a respiratory problem in which breathing is stopped intermittently during sleep. Obese people are also at risk of higher chances of getting bowel, breast and oesophageal cancers.
Strangely, most of us are well-aware of these factors that damage our health, and also know what we need to do to reduce the risk – eating healthy, exercising more, at the least, walking when possible, watching less TV, limiting sugar, starch, refined foods etc. The only thing that seems to be lacking is the discipline to follow a healthy lifestyle. Every new year begins with resolutions aplenty, and a few weeks is all that it takes for us to fall back into our old habits.
It need not be so. We just need to reduce a bit – fatty foods, sugar, salt, starches, etc., and add a bit more of physical activities every day, for a healthier, fulfilling life.