How unhealthy lifestyles affect the economy| Updated: Sep 09, 2013, 18:12 PM IST

According to a study done by Harvard School of Public Health, the economic burden due to non-communicable diseases will be about $6.2 trillion for India, from 2012-2030. This amount is almost nine times higher than the total health expenditure for the past 19 years.

The major contributors of this expenditure include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, of which, ischemic heart disease is projected to be the most expensive disease of the lot in India.

What’s causing these numbers to rise?

So what has brought about these astronomical changes in the numbers? While communicable diseases like polio and malaria are getting under control, there is a rise in cases of diabetes, hypertension, etc in urban India. And no, it is not just restricted to the aged; these diseases are attacking the youth in great numbers. Is our lifestyle to be blamed for this? Sedentary lifestyles, smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise. If this is what your routine consists of, then it won’t be too long before the symptoms for one or the other disease shows up.

Diabetes galore

According to the World Health Statistics report 2012, 11.1 per cent of the adult male population and 10.8 per cent of the female population have raised fasting blood glucose. Compare it with our neighbouring countries, and barring Pakistan, India has the highest number of diabetics, a whopping 6.1 million and counting.

Obese and how

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) (2005-06), the latest available on record, 13 per cent of women and nine per cent of men in India are overweight or obese. Dr Ravindran Kumeran, founder trustee at Obesity Foundation India, a non-profit organization working in the sector to promote awareness against obesity, says that the present generation is probably the most sedentary generation of people in the history of the world. No wonder the numbers are getting higher day by day.

How to tackle the problem?

It is time every individual takes it upon themselves to care for their health and fitness. The responsibility lies with you to manage your time and eat well. Take out time for physical activity, be it any sorts; walking up to your workplace, cycling, going for a walk during break-time, choosing healthy options even when you eat out and monitoring your alcohol intake. While smoking might be a stress buster for you right now, it can soon be the reason for your lack of stamina and hospital bills. (Read: How to fit exercise in your busy schedule)

Don’t think it can never happen to you! Youngsters are falling prey to diseases that were once associated with men and women in their 40s, 50s and beyond. The reality is changing and it’s time you realised it is in your hands to seize the moment and do something about it right now or let it get worse and repent later.