Role of Food Industry in Heart Health

Updated: Feb 04, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Mumbai: India is in the middle of an epidemiological and demographic transition and deaths due to chronic ailments including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are rising alarmingly contributing to 53% of total deaths.

The number of people with coronary heart disease in 2010 will reach 46.9 million according to the report of the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

The need of the hour is to initiate action preventive programs that involve different stakeholders. “At PepsiCo, we actively lead and engage in key public-private partnerships to help improve diets and support programmes that motivate our consumers to adopt healthier & more active lifestyles,” said George A Mensah, M.D., Director, Heart Health & Global Health Policy, PepsiCo Global Research & Development.

Quaker’s unique initiative, Mission to ‘Make India Heart Healthy’, is a call of action, an attempt to help increase awareness of the risk and prevention of heart disease through diet, health and exercise. “We want to help people understand the importance of heart health and as appropriate, how to live a healthy & active life. We’ve launched a website that encourages people to take the Quaker Heart Health test and we’re hopeful that we can make a positive impact. The test helps people find out whether they have high, moderate, or low risk for heart disease. The website offers advice on maintaining or improving heart health depending on the test results,” Dr Mensah said.

Speaking at a workshop as part of PepsiCo’s Mission to Make India Heart Healthy campaign in the city, Dr Mensah added, “Good nutrition and an active lifestyle are fundamental to good health and a healthy heart; we are committed to disseminating this message as widely, and effectively, as possible.”

“In dealing with these epidemics we have to ensure we have the wherewithal to treat and manage them but it would be infinitely better if we could preempt them,” said Dr. Aashish Contractor, HOD, Preventive Cardiology, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai. The noted preventive cardiologist was speaking at an all-India health writers’ workshop on Role of Food Industry in Heart Health.

Dr Mensah also emphasized the power of prevention and the crucial role improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and tobacco avoidance played in this within a context of comprehensive lifestyle changes. Dr. Mensah added that PepsiCo`s commitment is to also transform its portfolio of products to make healthy choices easy choices.

“As we set about meeting the challenge, it is important to realize that nothing will help our cause as much as a shifting of emphasis would. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes we made in dealing with infectious diseases. With disciplines like preventive cardiology we are looking at prolonging lives and more importantly at improving the quality of life index through lifestyle and risk factor management,” added Dr. Contractor.

Heart disease, together with other chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes, accounts for 53% of all deaths and 44% of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) according to a paper published in the medical journal The Lancet. Given the severity of the problem, it is increasingly felt that it was time to devise some innovative, proactive solutions to prevent the problem from escalating.

Bureau Report