Oct 2, 2008

Health - Heart stopping facts about India's Health

Sumitra Deb Roy

By 2015, there will be 100% rise in deaths due to cardiac ailment: WHO.

The rising graph of ailments in India is directly proportional to the rapidly changing traditional food habits, believe experts.

In about a decade’s time, India has earned the dubious distinction of being the capital for diabetes, hypertension and heart ailments. And, steadily even obesity is sneaking into the Indian households. Of all the ailments, the spurt in cardiovascular diseases has been the most steep and rapid. The prevalence of coronary artery disease has reached to 14% in contrast to 11% in 2003 and just 1% in 1960.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mortality due to cardiovascular diseases has decreased by 60% in Japan and Finland, 50% in the US, and 25% in Canada and Australia. But, on the other hand, it is projected that by 2015, mortality due to cardiac ailments will increase by 100 per cent in India.

“Cardiac ailments are on a decline in the west due to their strong implementation of anti-smoking laws,” said Dr Anupa Siddhu, director, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi and former professor at AIIMS. “Even with community counselling, the population there has been briefed about the good effects of having law-fat non-vegetarian food,” she added.
Nutritionists believe that Indian households are adopting a western diet. “We do not believe in having pulses or whole cereals anymore and gradually moving towards refined food,” said cardiologist Dr HK Chopra. “Our diet lacks fruits and vegetables, which is bringing down the immunity massively,” he said.

With urbanisation setting in, family outings are gradually on the rise. “Earlier, while families barely ate out once a week, now it has become a regular affair,” said Siddhu. And, most of the sought-after foods like pizzas, burgers and samosas have a very high concentration of trans-fatty acids.

“Worldwide studies have shown that there is a strong connection between trans-fatty acids and coronary heart disease,” said Anoop Mishra, director and head, department of diabetes and metabolic heart diseases, Fortis. He added that even more concerning is the fact that processed food manufacturers do not list or label the trans-fat content accurately. Denmark witnessed a 20% decline in the mortality rate due to cardiac ailments after the country regulated the trans-fat content.

Experts suggest that the key remains in having more of vegetarian diet. “Dishes made out of hydrogenated fat, baked items, margarines, meat and even milk have trans-fat,” said Dr B Sivakumar, former deputy director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad.

Siddhu suggested that families should avoid non-vegetarian food at least thrice a week. “They should refrain from watching television and have at least one no-television day a week,” she said.

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