Home / Science / Health /  What is making urban young India unhealthy?

New Delhi: Glued to the chair for long hours in office, eating unhealthy food, drinking carbonated beverages and getting little time for exercise! That’s the picture of young employees in urban India presented by a report by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

The report by NIN, which functions under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was prepared after a study of 171,928 individuals across 16 states.

About two-thirds of urban men (63%) work for more than eight hours a day and three-fourths of women (72%) for little less than eight hours a day, the study found. And, most of them work seated at a desk.

“On an average, more than a fourth of urban men (28%) were doing physical exercise, mainly ‘walking’ (21%), ‘yoga’ (4%) and ‘floor exercise’ (2%). Similarly, 15% of women were participating in physical exercise which included walking (11%) and yoga (3%)," the report said.

“Most of the urban women surveyed were found to be engaged in household activities like cooking, gardening, maintenance of the house, etc. More than half of the men (57%) and women (53%) were habituated to drinking carbonated water beverages (CWB) and it was found to be more in the state of West Bengal and low in the state of Maharashtra," it said.

The report titled “Diet and nutritional status of urban population in India and prevalence of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia in urban men and women," also found that only 23% of men and 12% of women managed to exercise daily. Among adult men and women, hypertension was found to be the most prevalent, followed by diabetes mellitus.

“These data are not surprising; inactivity and unhealthy diets are already seen from 10-12 years age. This is the age when in school, more emphasis should be given to sports, physical activity, increased intake of fruits and vegetables and strict maintenance of weight," said Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology and chairman, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation.

Men in urban areas suffer more than women from hypertension and its prevalence is highest in Kerala. Nearly 16% men smoked and 30% consumed alcohol. In Kerala, the prevalence of hypertension was highest (39%) while in Bihar, it was the lowest (22%).

Almost one-third to half of the men and women were seen suffering from weight and obesity-related problems and one in every three urban men and women were observed to be suffering from hypertension. One in every four men and women were suffering from diabetes. About one in every three men and women were also suffering from hyperlipidemia (abnormally elevated levels of any or all lipids or lipoproteins in the blood). About one in every five men was a smoker, while one in every three men was seen to be consuming alcohol regularly.

“There is a need to sensitize the community on the causes and consequences of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etc., through health and nutrition education using Information Education and Communication (IEC) activities, and behaviour change communication methods. People need to be educated on the benefits of healthy lifestyles and healthy dietary habits as it enables the prevention of non-communicable diseases and promotion of overall health," the report said.

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