Lifestyle is generally considered a personal issue however, lifestyles are social practices and lifestyles adopted by individuals reflect personal, group and socio-economic identities. It is commonly said that “Your genetics load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger” and since the last decade, human beings have embraced certain habits which lead to these newer disorders called “lifestyle disorders”, which are also known as Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs.
In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 61 percent of all deaths — 35 million — and 49 percent of the global disease burden were attributable to NCD. By 2030, the proportion of global deaths from chronic diseases is expected to increase to 70 percent and the global burden of disease to 56 percent.
In India, the ICMR decided to set up National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru, in 2011 with the purpose of collection, analysis and reporting of etiological, clinical, epidemiological and public health of NCDs – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and other determinants. In 2017, India witnessed 61.8 percent of deaths due to non-communicable conditions.
Causes of lifestyle disorders or non-communicable diseases:
NCDs majorly refer to cancers, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, mental health and others. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ajay Phadke, MD in Pathology – Head at SRL Dr Avinash Phadke Labs, revealed that NCDs are together governed by a cluster of risk factors like
1. Non-Modifiable factors
· Gender and Race
· Genetics reasons to overweight & obesity,
· Physiological and metabolic causes
2. Modifiable factors
· Environment- pollution (air, water and soil)
· Four main Behavioral causes- a) Tobacco b) Alcohol use, c) Lack of physical activity, d) Unhealthy Diet and food intake
· Stress, Disturbed biological clock (weird sleeping habits)
He shared, “One of the most common problems associated with multiple disorders today is Obesity. A simple calculation of one’s body mass index or BMI can tell a lot about your obesity levels. If the BMI is higher than 25, a person falls under the obese category. Obesity can be attributed to unrelated causes like rapid unplanned urbanization, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles, and population aging, fueled by unhealthy eating habits, stressful lifestyles and mainly due to reduced physical activity. Through obesity, a person is likely to suffer from issues such as breathing, blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc.”
Explaining that diabetes is a metabolism disorder that affects how the body uses food for energy and physical growth, Dr Ajay Phadke said, “The incidence has risen exponentially from 2% in the 1970s to 10 to 20% in 2020, even higher in metro cities. There are 4 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and Pre-Diabetes (Impaired Glucose Tolerance). Type 2 is the most common diabetes in the world and is caused by modifiable behavioral risk factors. Type II diabetes is a direct result of the obesity problem. This form of diabetes is due to the non-insulin that adults develop and is associated with poor eating habits and uneven lifestyle choices. Currently, more than 40 million people are already facing this problem in India, and the number refuses to cease, as it is expected to increase significantly every year.”
Tips to control lifestyle disorders or non-communicable diseases:
According to Dr Ajay Phadke, an important way of controlling non-communicable diseases is by controlling the associated risk factors. In other words, a number of non-communicable conditions can be prevented by controlling the behavioral or lifestyle habits related to those diseases.
He suggested, “The combination of four healthy lifestyle factors — maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, following a nutritious diet, and not smoking — is associated with an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases. It reinforces the current public health recommendations for observing healthy lifestyle habits. Since the roots of these habits often originate during the formative stages of life, it is imperative to start early in teaching essential lessons concerning healthy living.”
He highlighted, “Despite the well-known benefits of a healthy lifestyle, only a small proportion of adults follow such a routine; the numbers are declining. Unfortunately, there is very little public awareness of the association between health and lifestyle. A comprehensive approach is essential that involves all sectors, including health, finance, education, planning and others, to minimize the impact of lifestyle diseases on individuals and society.”