Categories
Wellness

Sugar is the new health threat : Findings from Credit Suisse Study

Last week I had written a piece informing people about the dangers of sugar and given them 4 reasons to cut it out of the diet. I received a lot of criticism and some feedback on the piece. I do acknowledge that I am not an endocrinologist and have not conducted any independent study on this topic.

But last week while watching a documentary on sugar consumption from New Zealand, I came across references to a report from Credit Suisse “Sugar: Consumption at Crossroads”

Findings from the Credit Suisse report is more validation of my earlier article. The truth is that the processed food industry has been using sugar in large quantities. In addition to taste, sugar is also a good preservative. And last but not the least I feel Sugar is very addictive, more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol.

Sugar is the new threat to our health

There were three findings from the report that were eye openers. These were

  1. Global Consumption- The global per capita consumption of sugar is up 46% from 48 grams a day to 70 grams a day. This is the addition of 280 calories daily. 70 grams is around 16-18 teaspoons. While this is the average, the US leads the world with 40 teaspoons a day while China has the least which is around 7 teaspoons a day. Picture an American and a Chinese. Now you would know where obesity is coming from….need I say more.
  1. Sugar link with Obesity- While medical research has not been conclusive to link Sugar with Obesity, there are indications that the link will be established soon. Today we have enough indicators putting sugars and carbohydrates as creating a greater risk for Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Attacks. While Insulin resistance is genetically determined, it is established that more than 7 teaspoons for women and more than 9 for men is way above the insulin tolerance levels. This is the amount of sugar found in a single bottle of coca-cola.
  1. Medical Practitioners Agree- While a large scale trial or study keeping a control and a trial group across many years have not been organised as yet, the surveys across medical practitioners across the glove have agreed that sugar is the causative elements for the increase in hearts diseases. The concurrence was as high as 80%. Interestingly the consumption of sugar has declined in the upper strata of the society specially among educated individuals. But sugar finds a way to sneak in through processes food.

So what does all this mean for India?

Well in India the number of deaths in India due to heart diseases stood at 15% in 1990 and now it is up to 28%. The main factor for this has been diet. While factors like hypertension are a direct result of obesity, other factors like environmental pollution and tobacco usage also contributed to this number. In other words, our sugar consumption is killing us faster than we think.

What can we do ?

Here are three steps that I want all my readers to take immediately

  1. Educate yourself- There is enough literature available on the net and as well on research sites. Spend some time reading this and take charge of your health.
  2. Watch Documentaries- There are enough documentaries on channels like Discovery and Amazon Prime. This gives you a sense of the research and though process on this issue across the globe.
  3. Read Nutrition Facts- At the back of all food articles in India, there is a table that indicates the amount of sugar that have been added to the product. Read that carefully. Remember WHO prescribes only 9 teaspoons per male per day and 7 per female. Anything above that is very dangerous.

In conclusion, take charge of your health. If you don’t no one else will. As always comments and suggestions are welcome.

Categories
Public Health

India and COVID19 – The Story So Far and the Road Ahead

Late January, a medical student fleeing from Wuhan became the first confirmed cases of SARS-Cov-2 in India.1 Couple of her classmates also contracted the virus and India made its initial entry into a leader board no country wants to lead. The three students largely remained asymptomatic and recovered with a month, ending India’s first tryst with the virus.

The second wave started at the end of February. By now, SARS-Cov-2 had spread to 64 countries / regions across the world, with South Korea and Italy reporting over 1,000 confirmed cases. But it is quite possible there were cases in India long before that. It was only in in May that we found that the virus had already reached France in late December itself.2 It is quite possible that the virus had reached India from Europe long before we started screening the flights coming from Europe.

Nevertheless, as confirmed cases started gradually increasing in India, the Central Government took a bold step in locking the country down for three weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. Many countries were opting for lockdown to tackle the virus, but the step by India was a bold one for two reasons:

  1. Lockdown is a strategy for the rich. It meant many will have to live off their savings and those who can’t will have to be protected by the government. US alone has provided for over 3 million via unemployment benefits.3 India, with perhaps the largest number of poor people in the world, would have struggled to provide for those getting unemployed due to lockdown.
  2. It would have taken a phenomenal effort to enforce the lockdown given the size of the country and population density in certain parts. The only comparable country is China, which can rely on heavier surveillance than India could enforce.

By 14th April, Goa, the North East and East India excluding West Bengal were largely unaffected by the virus and had limited the number of cases to less than 100. States like Haryana, Karnataka and Kerala had managed to control the spread as well and showcasing more than one-fourth recoveries.

But it was already evident by then that many places in the country where the infection had reached the community.

Though India officially denied community reach of the virus, on 10th April, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which was coordinating India’s Covid19 response (Which in itself was odd since there was already another organization fitted for it – Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme (IDSP) 4) had recommended 36 districts be prioritized to target Covid-19 containment activities. This was based on the Sentinel Surveillance study done till 2nd April.5

By 3rd April, India recorded a little over 3,000 cases of SARS-Cov-2. This was spread across 255 districts in 30 states and union territories. Incidentally, only 66 districts had reported more than 10 SARS-Cov-2 cases then.

And ICMR was recommending stricter containment in 36 districts.

As the economic cost of the lockdown became more apparent, India went on a period of staggered release of lockdown after 14th April. But as expected from a country with community transmission of a virus, India showed a consistent increase in cases as norms got relaxed. What was 104 districts on 24th March, when lockdown started, it became 379 on 14th April, 489 on 4th May, 564 on 17th May and with the last release on 31st May – 654 districts have seen confirmed cases of SARS-Cov-2 across the country.

The Road Ahead

Image 1 – Italy

Image 2 – India

After a long three month struggle, Europe is finally starting to hope they can move beyond Covid. While most of the European countries peaked in cases late March, they have seen a gradual decline in cases over two months.

This long tail foreshadows what we may see in India. But for that, we have to reach the peak first. So, we can expect considerable pain, both from Covid and the economy, for at least the next two months before things start to get better.

The 66 districts that saw more than 10 cases on 3rd April, now account for 66% of the SARS-Cov-2 cases in the country.

As cases increase, hospitals get stressed and treatment gets delayed. This leads to an increase in fatality rate. While India is doing remarkably well with around 7,500 dead from 267,000 SARS-Cov-2 cases (2.8%), there are over 100 districts with a fatality rate of 3.7% and above. The ones to watch out for over the coming weeks:

Jalgaon (Maharashtra), Dhule (Maharashtra), Kolkata (West Bengal), Solapur (Maharashtra), Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh), Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Dewas (Madhya Pradesh), Patan (Gujarat), Khargone (Madhya Pradesh), Amravati (Maharashtra), Nashik (Maharashtra), Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Sagar (Madhya Pradesh) and North 24 Parganas (West Bengal).

All these districts have shown consistent growth the past week and has high fatality rate. With more testing, it may be possible to weed out the SARS-Cov-2 carriers and catch patients early, although districts like Kolkata and Nashik may already be stressed, given the high number of cases there.

Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Anand (Gujarat) and Panchmahal (Gujarat) have seen low growth in cases recently, but has an overall high fatality rate. Increasing testing in such places may reveal the extent of the spread, since high fatality rate may be due to late stage discovery of the disease.

On a positive note, there are 48 districts that show a high growth rate in cases with a less than 1% fatality rate. This would indicate better testing and good potential to keep a check on the virus. These include Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Chengalpattu (Tamil Nadu) and Gurugram (Haryana). All of the three districts have recorded over 1,000 SARS-Cov-2 cases

Among the 25 districts that have over 1,000 cases, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Jaipur (Rajasthan) have shown the slowest growth rate the past week, indicating a positive road ahead.

Late March, George Gao of the Chinese Center for Disease Control spoke to Science Magazine about the road ahead with SARS-Cov-2 – Trace all SARS-Cov-2 carriers with mass testing, Isolate the carriers and trace out their close contacts, Quarantine and isolate the close contacts.6 As we officially start to slowly unlock our economy in June, despite the numbers on the rise, it will be a difficult road ahead for all of us in India.

A century ago, the Indian subcontinent was the biggest graveyard for the Spanish flu virus. In all probability, we are again headed there and the only way to have some form of control is to trace the infected early by mass testing and ensuring strict quarantine of the infected and their contacts. We also need a workable serological test7 to determine who have already been infected (and not initially traced) so that they can get back to work.

By Ranjith Kollanur

Bout the Author

Ranjith Kollanur is the Managing Parter with the Unseen Ink,

1https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/india-news-wuhan-to-kochi-an-indian-medical-students-great-escape-from-epicentre-of-coronavirus/302922

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52526554

3https://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-staggering-number-of-laid-off-workers-are-receiving-more-money-from-unemployment-benefits-than-when-they-were-employed-2020-05-26?mod=article_inline

4https://idsp.nic.in/index1.php?lang=1&level=1&sublinkid=5778&lid=3707

5https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/trends/icmr-sentinal-surveillance-finds-39-percent-coronavirus-patients-without-travel-history/story/400629.html

6https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/not-wearing-masks-protect-against-coronavirus-big-mistake-top-chinese-scientist-says

7https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/serology-testing.html

Categories
Mental Health

Is India facing Mental Wellness Crises ?

India has always been a spiritual nation. For the last 5000 years, we have believed that the source of our mental happiness and wellness is based on our spiritual way of life.

But the modern mechanical world has in a way disrupted that pattern and in the last 50 years, we have seen an increase in cases requiring mental wellness intervention. We also see an increase in cases where patients need counseling and therapy. While this is still an emerging trend it is believed that this year 2020, more than 20% of our po[ulation needs mental wellness interventions.

Covid19 has exposed the need for the same. It is believed that the number of people requiring treatment is almost 25% more than previously anticipated. Also, the infrastructure in terms of doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors is just not there. To discuss this and more Dr Sumeet Kad and I took up this issue in our third episode of India Health Talk. The link is below.

On the positive side, there is an increased awareness of the situation, also due to the rise of telemedicine, we would see an increase in the number of teleconsultations. However, the key is to increase awareness and not take your mental wellness for granted.

We would love to hear your feedback, as well.

Categories
Public Health

Covid19 Test. Trace. Treat… Are We Doing Enough?

We have been hearing this advice from many sources for the management of Covid19 effectively. For understanding more about Covid19, I went on to check for a simple metric i.e. percentage of confirmed Covid19 cases vis-a-vis a total number of tests conducted by various countries affected with Covid19. My data sources are shared at the end of the article. I have used a different data source for the month of May; the reason being comparable dataset was not available with the earlier source.

March Numbers

CountryDateTotal TestsTotal Confirmed Cases%Confirmed
SpainMar 18, 2020300001117837.26
ItalyMar 20, 20202068864103519.83
IranMar 14, 2020800001136414.21
United StatesMar 19, 202010394594159.06
IndiaMar 20, 2020145411911.32

May Numbers

CountryDateTotal TestsTotal Confirmed Cases%Confirmed
SpainMay 24, 202035565672823707.93
ItalyMay 24, 202033911882293276.76
IranMay 24, 202078128613352117.08
United StatesMay 24, 202014357969166682911.60
IndiaMay 24, 202029434211326744.50

Just to mention, the source which I used earlier did not have the data for China so I could not include the same. Apart from China, I have shown the data for the countries which have got the maximum number of confirmed cases to date (in March) for illustration purpose and I also included our own country to put this in perspective. Now, if we compare the data for two instances; it shows different positivity rate (i.e. percentage of total confirmed cases / total test)

As we all know that lockdown was imposed in our country for preparing ourselves for fighting this long battle against Covid19 and a very important aspect in this battle is to increase our daily testing capacity as it’s the only way available to us to understand the spread of the virus in any particular community.

We have come close to daily testing capacity of 1 lakh+ tests a day which is almost 100 times increase from the initial days but still we are way behind when we see tests per million vis-à-vis other developed countries. Just to put this in perspective; India is doing 2135 tests / million population whereas Iran which has almost similar number of confirmed cases has been doing 9544 tests/ million population. And if we compare this with developed countries this number is in the range of 20000 – 75000 tests/ million population.

At the same time; we should not forget that various studies world over suggest that actual number of infected individuals are always higher than number of confirmed cases the reason being each country depending upon their testing strategies are able to identify the confirmed cases. Also, we should not forget that number of confirmed cases is a lagging indicator to understand the spread as the symptoms start to emerge only after 2 to 14 days from the day an individual got infected with the virus.

I am writing this article at a time when we are in lockdown 4.0 and have got relaxation in many parts of the country. This would be the real test of our healthcare infrastructure which we have managed to build during the national lockdown.

Key Points:

  1. Positivity rate for India is less vis-à-vis other nations which also got impacted with Covid19 (which is a good sign)
  2. We need to improve our testing capabilities to understand the level of community spread (as it is done in other countries); the reason being based on the historical evidence and current developments globally pandemic strikes in waves so we should not discard the possibility in our case as well.
  3. We should also increase the use of rapid antibody test to ascertain the level of community spread.
  4. We should be more concerned about deaths happening due to Covid19 as it is believed that 80% of the cases would be mild in nature; 15% would need hospital support and 5% would need ventilator support.

In our country, one can also debate the number of deaths happening because many of deaths happening in our country are not certified medically. But that is something we should discuss separately.

Again as always, questions and clarifications are welcome.

About the author

Yatindra Jha is a healthcare consultant with a focus on public health policy.

Sources

Data Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing – March Data

Data Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ – May Data

Categories
Public Health

We might be seeing the end of the #Covid19 pandemic in India.

On 15th March 2020, India had just crossed 100 cases. Italy was at 24.7k cases, US at 3.6k cases, Brazil had just gone past 200 cases, Germany had crossed 5.8k cases and Russia at just 63 cases. In the last two months even with varying amount of restrictions, COVID19 has still wrecked havoc in these countries and the world.

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With India now sitting at the threshold of 100K cases, we look at the effect various lockdowns has had on the Covid19 situation in India. We also take a look at how the countries continue to recover from COVID19.

We dig further in to our classification of Indian States with a new methodology that scores the states basis various parameters.

Note: We have removed Korea and Sweden from the study to Include Brazil and Russia. This gives us a better representation of the top countries with respect to no of cases reported

India and The world

On the 62nd day after crossing 100 cases India has the second highest daily growth rate (7 Day Rolling Average). If we look at the table only Brazil is ahead of India

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India has had 3 Lockdowns and we will start Lockdown 4.0 from tomorrow. These lockdowns have ensured that we have done much better in the number of reported cases than other countries in the study. But has the curve really flattened out? When we look at the other countries, we see that most of the countries have nearly managed to flatten the curve albeit at a very high number of reported cases. Currently on a logarithmic scale India, Russia and Brazil are showing strong signs of growing while other countries have a flat curve.USA, Italy and Iran have all flattened their curve. (Spain and France also show a flat curve though not included in the below graph)

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For India, the lockdown has ensured that we miss the steep growth path of other countries but we are still poised to hit a huge number, albeit at a slower rate. This means we have just prolonged our battle with the disease.

Although, India may seem to be trending towards a higher number of cases all may not be lost. India is doing well in terms of its recovery rate and outcome percentage.

Recovery Rate

Recovery Rate, i.e. no of people recovered by total outcomes continues to improve for the world and for India. India’s recovery rate has now crossed 90%. For the world it stands at 85%. The other countries in the study have also improved their recovery rate

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Outcome Percentage

Recovery rate should be studied along with the outcome curve, i.e. how many cases have had an outcome with respect to active cases. For e.g Russia has a 96% recovery rate but 76% of the cases still await an outcome. Similarly Iran has a 93% recovery rate at a 85% outcome rate which more or less signifies the actual recovery rate for the country.

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India has a good recovery rate with a decent outcome%.

Net Active Cases

Definitions

Net Active Cases = Total Cases – (Cases Recovered+Total Deaths)

India’s Net Active cases are at just a little above 53K. Except for Iran and Germany, all the other countries are much ahead of India. With India’s high recovery rate, it clearly shows that India is also recovering at a much higher pace than the other countries.

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India has also seen a declining trend in the net active case added each day. In the past seven days we have added around 1700 net active cases per day compared to higher than 1900 net active cases in the week before.

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This is a positive sign for the Indian Medical Fraternity as the reducing number of new active cases added does prevent the medical system from getting overwhelmed.

Lockdown Effect on India

When we take a look at the effect lockdown had on our growth rates, it can be observed that lockdown 1 certainly slowed us down, but lockdown 2 and lockdown 3 failed to have the desired effect of flattening the curve.

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If we look at the Indian States, Maharashtra has had no effect in the lockdown. Its contribution to the cases in fact has grown during the three lockdowns.

Similarly Delhi is another state that has been contributing heavily during the lockdowns showing minimal effect of the lockdown.

States Classification

We have changed the methodology of classification of states (Good, States to be Watched and Worry States) from May onwards. We were classifying the states on the basis of their 7DAGR only. Now we have also included the following to arrive at a weighted score

  • Total Cases Reported
  • Cases/Mil
  • Test/Mil
  • Growth Rate
  • Positive%
  • Outcome%
  • Recovery Rate

Basis these parameters we have arrived at a group of 

  1. Good States
  2. States to be Watched
  3. Worry States

The Good States

As on 16th May 2020, the following states qualify as the Good States. These states are characterized by low growth rates, low cases/million, higher Outcome% and high recovery rates.

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Haryana – Haryana has seen a recent spike in cases most of which are related to Delhi. Haryana, despite being surrounded by Delhi, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan (All these states have high number of cases) has done very well in terms of new cases. The Growth rate is below 4% and with aggressive testing it has maintained a low positive percentage also.

Jammu And Kashmir – This state saw a huge spurt in cases during the first lockdown. Most of the cases here were either linked to the religious event in Delhi or pilgrims returning from Iran. The state was once a worry state and now has come in the good states

Karnataka – There has been spurts seen in state but overall the state has maintained its low positive percentage and cases/million. The recovery rate is a bit lower compared to its peers but with outcome% also below 50%, the recovery rate may go up.

Kerala – This state was on its way to 100% recovery but with the return of Migrant Populations and Expats, there has been a minor spurt of cases. It will be interesting to see whether Kerala is able to control its cases as it had done previously.

Punjab – Punjab had more or less weathered the COVID19 storm in the first two lockdowns, but a sudden upsurge of cases from the last week of April saw Punjab come in the “Emerging Bad” category in my last article. But it has been an aberration due to infected pilgrims returning from Nanded and Punjab has controlled the situation well, to move in to the good states.

Jharkand – Less number of tests, but lesser cases and growth rate puts this state among the good states.

States to be watched

These states are those states that have either started showing a positive trend i.e. moving from a Worry State to a Good State or a negative trend i.e. moving from a Good State to a Worry State.

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Andhra Pradesh – This state is on the way down and will probably move towards the good states in a day or two if the trend continues.

Madhya Pradesh – Another state on the way down. This state was showing alarming trends during the month of April and was a worry state. It has still not completely slowed down but is definitely on its way down

Odisha – This was an encouraging state but recent trends show a very huge growth rate and will probably move to a Worry State soon.

Rajashtan – Another state that was showing huge growth numbers in April has slowed down very well. It had moved down to a good state but another spurt of cases moved it back to States to be watched

Telangana – We are not sure of the numbers for this state as they have stopped reporting number of tests done. Hence we are keeping this state as a state to watch

Uttar Pradesh – Like Rajashtan, UP was also supposed to burst with cases. But UP has maintained its trend, although a lot more testing needs to still happen in UP.

The Worry States

The States that add most to the growth of the Indian cases have been categorized as the worry states. These states have high number of cases, a higher penetration of cases in the population, a high positive% and low outcome%.

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Bihar – We had categorized this as an “Emerging Bad” State in our last article. It has now turned as a worry state. It has poor testing, a high growth rate and a low outcome%. This state may become a major problem especially with the migrant population traveling back.

Delhi – Delhi has tested a lot but it still has a high positive% and a high penetration rate. Delhi had slowed very well but with opening up of the wholesale market, cases have started zooming up again.

Gujarat – Gujarat was showing signs of slow down but still has a long way to go before it comes into a good state. high number of cases, poor recovery rate along with a sub 5% growth rate is making this state a huge worry for India.

Maharashtra – The state that refuses to slow down. Even after 54 days of crossing 100 cases the states growth rate of cases is still above 6%. This state has not slowed down once and daily number of cases have just shown an increasing trend. This is the most worrisome state in India, more so because of poor recovery rate also.

Tamil Nadu – A Covid19 explosion in one of its market turned this good state in to a huge worry state for India. This state is seeing a resurgence in cases after it was able to contain very well the effect of the religious event in Delhi, surge. The good part is that recovery rate is very high but still outcome% is very low.

West Bengal – Poor testing, High Growth Rate, very bad recovery rate along with questionable data sharing makes this state a time bomb. This state may explode or already has but we do not have the data for it.

In all, these worry states have to slow down. If they slow down and go below 4% India will see a reduction in cases. Also we should hope that in the coming days the list of Good States increases and worry states keeps going down.

CPM19 – The Road Ahead

On 2nd May, we predicted 75K cases for India by 17th May. There was another projection that the model made which showed more than 100K cases which was rejected as we were quite hopeful that growth trend would stabilize and we will not cross 3000 cases added per day.

This has not really happened and India has infact overshot our number by at least 18k cases. Nevertheless we will still try to predict the number for 31st May using this model.

We have used the CPM model to predict the growth trend for the states basis their classification as The Good State, States to be Watched and The Worry States. The prediction shows that by end of May we may very well be close to 150K cases. That’s another 60K cases in the next 15 days. The good news is that we may start showing a slow down in new cases reported after reaching a peak of close to 4900 cases per day. This may mean that we might start flattening the curve by end of this month.

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If our prediction holds true we may see a step towards the end of this pandemic in India although as we said before the road to recovery is a very long one. Also as India continues to ease the lockdown the road ahead may still be very bumpy.

About the Author

Sanjeev Prakash is an Analytics and Marketing professional with more than 12 years of experience in Analytics, Data Management, Sales, Brand Management, Corporate Communications, Market Research and Customer Relationship Management. Sanjeev has an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and a degree in economics.

(Article also published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/covid19-india-fights-back-sanjeev-prakash/?trackingId=D3q6XmsjQ%2B%2BWS1bIqQe8ow%3D%3D)