India faces the dual burden of obesity and malnutrition: HCFI

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Increasing obesity levels in rural India a cause for concern

New Delhi, 10th May 2019: Obesity is increasing more rapidly in the world’s rural areas than in cities, according to a study of global trends in body-mass index (BMI). The study, published in the journal Nature, analysed the height and weight data of over 112 million adults across urban and rural areas of 200 countries and territories between 1985 and 2017. The prevalence of obesity in India is increasing and ranges from 8% to 38% in rural and 13% to 50% in urban areas.

Rural areas in low- and middle-income countries have seen shifts towards higher incomes, better infrastructure, more mechanized agriculture and increased car use. These factors not only bring numerous health benefits, but also lead to lower energy expenditure and to more spending on food, which can be processed and low-quality when sufficient regulations are not in place. The need of the hour is large-scale awareness on the importance of healthy eating patterns.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Obesity is the mother of conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. India faces a dual burden. On the one hand is malnutrition and on the other is obesity. What makes obesity in India different from the rest of the world is that in our country, it is marked by the ‘Thin-Fat Indian Phenotype’. This means that there is a higher proportion of people with body fat, abdominal obesity, and visceral fat, in comparison with Caucasian and European counterparts. Hence, world obesity generally reported in terms of waist circumference, and a BMI beyond 30, significantly underestimates the prevalence of obesity in India. Indian obesity needs to be estimated according to a lower threshold of BMI 25. Additionally, even a normal BMI of up to 23, might show higher instances of isolated abdominal obesity.”

Two primary culprits of obesity include a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating patterns. The consumption of processed food has increased manifold. This, combined with untimely working patterns and lack of physical activity, make the situation worse.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The traditional Indian diet is rich in carbohydrates. People consume large quantities of rice, rotis, and even bread. Apart from this, there is widespread availability of fried and unhealthy fast food today, which are all contributors to empty calories in the diet. Indians are caught amidst all this and therefore, the increase in the prevalence of obesity does not come as a surprise.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • The key to weight loss is reducing how many calories you take in.
  • The concept of energy density can help you satisfy your hunger with fewer calories.
  • To make your overall diet healthier, eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates.
  • Make exercise an important part of your daily routine. Start slow and increase the duration as you go along.

The fight against malaria must begin at an individual level

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The T3 initiative of WHO must be followed by every country

New Delhi, 27 April 2019: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has pointed out that while a formulation of about 24% DEET provided complete protection for over 300 minutes against mosquitoes, botanical repellents were able to protect for only about 20 minutes. The ones that work are lavender oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, eucalyptus oil, cedar oil, geranium oil.

The Anopheles mosquito that is known to be the transmitter of malaria is active at night, so a net is advisable. Insecticide-treated nets are available for better protection. Even if there is a hole or a small gap between the bed and net, the mosquito will not enter, claims the WHO’s book on insecticide-treated nets.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There is still a long road ahead before the goal of elimination of malaria throughout the country by 2030 is achieved. Malaria is entirely a preventable disease. It is also treatable provided it is diagnosed and treated in time. The symptoms of malaria are non-specific and can be variable. So, it may be mistaken for other diseases such as viral infections, typhoid and the diagnosis of malaria may be missed as a result. It is important to remember here that malaria is not a clinical diagnosis; the diagnosis has to be confirmed by microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The ‘T3’ initiative of the WHO Global Malaria Program supports malaria-endemic countries in their efforts to achieve universal coverage with diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, as well as in strengthening their malaria surveillance systems.

After several years of steady declines, annual cases of the mosquito-borne disease have levelled off, according to the UN health agency’s 2018 malaria report. Malaria infects over 200 million people a year and killed 435,000 in 2017, mostly in Africa.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “T3 stands for Test. Treat. Track: every suspected malaria case should be tested; every confirmed case should be treated with a quality-assured antimalarial medicine; and the disease should be tracked through a timely and accurate surveillance system.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Malaria mosquitoes grow in fresh water collected in the house. It is therefore important to not let water stagnate in your house and the surrounding areas. Mosquito cycle takes 7-12 days to complete. So, if any utensil or container that stores water is cleaned properly once in a week, there are no chances of mosquito breeding.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs in money plant pots or in water tanks on the terrace if they are not properly covered. If the water pots for birds kept on terraces are not cleaned every week, then mosquitoes can lay eggs in them.
  • Using mosquito nets/repellents in the night may not prevent malaria because these mosquitoes bite during the day time.
  • Malaria mosquitoes do not make a sound. Therefore, mosquitoes that do not produce a sound do not cause diseases.
  • Wearing full sleeves shirt and trousers can prevent mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent can be helpful during the day.

Excessive use of multiple digital devices can cause weight gain in the longer term

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It is imperative to take a social media holiday at frequent intervals

New Delhi, 5 April 2019: A recent study has found that people who switch between digital services tend to gain weight. It has revealed that media multitasking is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain. When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. The findings indicate that there could be links between media multitasking, a risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.

Up till now the debate has been whether mobile radiations can cause brain cancer or not. But recently, a new spectrum of diseases related to use of mobile phones has come to the notice of medical profession and it is anticipated that 10 years from now they will take an epidemic shape.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “In this digital era, the key to good health should be moderation – moderate use of technology. A lot of us have become slaves to devices that were really meant to free us and give us more time to experience life and be with people. Unless precautionary measures are taken at the earliest, this addiction can prove detrimental to one’s health in the longer term. We live in an age where mobile phones have penetrated our lives and actual human interaction is almost non-existent. Although technology has made life easier for everyone, there is a severe limitation of actual human empathetic interactions. We have begun to place more importance on what others think of us and how they perceive us. All of this can lead to anxiety and depression in the longer term.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Apart from obesity, there are several other health issues posed by the overuse of smartphones and social media. There is a need to measure the use of these devices in our daily lives and focus on health.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Electronic curfew means not using any electronic gadgets 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Facebook holiday: Take a Facebook holiday for 7 days every three months.
  • Social media fast: Avoid use of social media once in a week for the entire day.
  • Use your mobile phone only when mobile.
  • Do not use computer for more than three hours in a day.
  • Limit your mobile talk time to more than two hours in a day.
  • Do not recharge your mobile battery more than once in a day.

Mobile can also be a source of infection in the hospital setup; therefore, it is disinfected every day.

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