Public Health

The real cost of obesity in India

India has always been a land of plenty. Historically it was a land that controlled almost 25-30% of global GDP. It is no surprise then that ancient texts write about obesity in uncertain terms. As a matter of fact practices like Yoga developed in India as a holistic system for physical and mental wellbeing.

During the colonial rule India suffered and so did the health of its citizens. Obesity was replaced with starvation. The Bengal famine during 1943 was the epitome of what all was wrong with the colonial rule and administration. The situation continued after independence, the PDS and rationing system ensured that food was available but in limits.

But 1991 changed all that. With global liberalisation India was an active market to many of the food companies. Nestle, Unilever, General Mills, among others introduced many of their global successes in the country. The net result combined with the growing purchasing power of the middle class has resulted in an epidemic that affects 5% of the population today. It also lays the foundation for systemic conditions like Diabetes and circulatory conditions like cardiovascular diseases.

According to reports from the Indian Heart Association India carries almost 60 % of the cardiovascular disease burden of the world. In terms of obesity again India sees more instances of abdominal obesity. During research on 22 different SNPs near to MC4-R gene, scientists have identified an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) named rs12970134 to be mostly associated with waist circumference. In this study, more than two thousand individuals of Indian origin participated and the aforementioned SNP is highly prevalent in this group. Also, obesity seems to affect women more than men in India. According to research done by CADI Research, Obesity among women seems to go higher with increasing BMI.

So what’s the real economic cost of obesity?

  1. For starters, I think it is not necessary for people to spend to consume more if they are already obese. Consumption of food should be “means to an end” and not the other way around.
  2. Obesity forms the basis of the other two lifestyle diseases killing India- Hypertension, and Diabetes. Just last week a very serious colleague from my office had a stroke, his condition was exasperated due to diabetes and obesity.
  3. Studies in India estimate that, for a low-income Indian family with an adult with diabetes, as much as 20 percent of family income may be devoted to diabetes care. For families with a diabetic child, up to 35 percent of income is spent on diabetes care.
  4. If you have Diabetes for five years you would have spent around Rs 1,50,000 on diabetes treatment only. After 10 years you would have spent Rs 4,00,000 and after 20 years you would have spent Rs 15,00,000. The increase in cost with time is due to the increase in complications.
  5. To add this the direct cost of diabetes is around Rs 1,00,000 which includes the cost of direct consultation with doctors and the numerous tests that have to be performed.
  6. Then there is the opportunity cost. Is it estimated that a loss of Rs 50,000 per annum per individual due to sick leaves?

So essentially we have a interesting situation, where we spend money to consume and then spend again on healthcare services.

So how can we change this around

  1. Get aware of the disease burden. If overweight then start, looking at dedicating 1 hour per day on exercises. Something as simple as walking daily is a good start.
  2. Lose the habits, drinking, smoking, junk food is again adding to the costs.
  3. Get regular tests done, this avoids surprises and helps you plan to cover for the disease burden. At a minimum, you should get HB1ac test done quarterly.
  4. Pick up Yoga, I have been practicing Yoga for the last 5 years and have immensely benefited from the practice

The cost of healthcare is only going to go up. Just remember that steps taken today can reduce the cost tomorrow, whether to act or not is totally upto you.



Healthcare Delivery

Thoughts on #WorldDiabetesDay

India continues to deal with a unique mix of communicable and non-communicable diseases. As we continue to grapple with communicable diseases in the form of Dengue and Malaria; lifestyle led noncommunicable diseases like Diabetes are also spreading across the country.

Healthcare Delivery

How to take charge of your health for increasing quality of life

We have made tremendous progress in our understanding of healthcare patterns in India. This understanding has been employed in improving certain key parameters. A good example is life expectancy at birth for the Indians.

Healthcare Delivery

Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre launches ‘Precision Diabetes’

Diabetes is the clear and present danger for Indian patients. According to reports, almost 50 Million people in India have Diabetes today and the number is actually much higher, it’s just that most people are not aware that they are Diabetic as yet.

Some time ago we had carried a detailed interview with Dr. V Mohan, Chairman & Chief Diabetologist, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre on the state of Diabetes in the country.

Healthcare Delivery

Walk your way to good health

Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) prevalence in India has risen four-fold in the past four decades. Indians are succumbing to heart disease and stroke in the most productive years of their lives; about a decade earlier than their western counterparts.

Rapid acquisition of adverse lifestyles like smoking, physical inactivity, improper diet, stress etc, especially among the corporate population has contributed to this rising prevalence of chronic disease factors and their ensuing outcomes such as obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. This in turn has resulted in urban Indians experiencing cardiac problems at an early age.

Keeping this in mind, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal in association with Rotary club, Sahakarnagar organised a walkathon, recently. The walkathon commenced at 7.30 am from the hospital and was attended by not less than 180 people including residents of nearby apartments like Godrej, Century and Purva, few schools and colleges students as well as Rotary club members, hospital staff and doctors.

The walkathon was followed by an awareness program on cardiac health at the hospital campus.

“Walking is a good aerobic exercise that improves blood circulation and allows body to use oxygen better. To maximize the benefits one can maintain a fast pace to increase the basal metabolic rate. Give up the elevator for stairs; park your car half a kilometre far from your destination, and while at work take short breaks and go out for 10 to 15 minutes of walk,” said Dr. Ananth N. Rao, General Manager, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal.

Talking on the benefits of walking in ensuring good cardiac health highlighted, “We often ignore the benefits of walking daily. Brisk walking has enormous benefits to overall health of a person and to the cardiac health in particular. Some of the benefits include lowering blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, burning extra calories, improving good cholesterol or HDL levels, agile muscles and joints,” said Dr. Prabhakar Shetty, Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal.

“We are happy to associate with a multi-speciality hospital like Columbia Asia for this walkathon to raise awareness on cardiac health. It is extremely important for all of us to be aware of the early symptoms of cardiac complications and take preventive measures early to avoid or postpone the onset of cardiac diseases,” said Mrs. Shwetha Anand, President, Rotary Club, Sahakarnagar.

The walkathon was followed by a diabetes screening for all the participants.

Read on to know some of the better walking techniques mentioned by Dr. Prabhakar:

  • Walk on flat surface
  • Use comfortable clothes and footwear
  • Begin with small steps
  • Maintain right posture
  • Focus on breathing

So get off your chair and start walking. After all health is wealth and you are just a short walk away from it.