Prevalence of non-communicable diseases in India is 116 per 1,000 population and these diseases show a quantum jump when one crosses the age of 35 years, says a new report which also identifies air pollution as the most prevalent risk factor among the surveyed population. According to the report on India's Non-Communicable Disease Burden' by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, hypertension, digestive diseases and diabetes are among the top three most prevalent non-communicable diseases (NCDs), while cancer is the least prevalent.
The report has been prepared based on a survey covering 2,33,672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states, to analyse the rising cases of NCDs in the country. The social profile of suffering households has observed that India's non-communicable disease burden is growing at an alarming rate with the average age for onset falling sharply. Prepared by the Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI), the survey reported that NCDs increase after 18 years and show a quantum leap when an individual crosses the age of 35 years. It found that more than two-third of individuals suffering from NCDs are in the most productive age groups–between 26-59 years.
"This is an alarming trend and points to the grim reality that the burden of NCDs on India is long-lasting given that 65 per cent of the country's population is below 35 years of age," says the report. "The survey also suggested that the prevalence of having any NCDs among the population is 116 per 1,000 population in India. It identified hypertension, digestive disease and diabetes as the top three NCDs followed by respiratory diseases, brain/neurological disorders, heart diseases/CVD, kidney disorders and cancer in the order of prevalence," it says.
The prevalence of NCDs among men is 119 per 1,000 male population, while for women it is 113 per 1,000 female population, the report adds. Furthermore, men are found to be more prone to contracting NCDs than women except for hypertension and neurological disorders which are more prevalent in women, it says.
On a collective basis, the study identifies air pollution as the most prevalent risk factor among the surveyed population. It is trailed by low physical activity and an imbalanced diet. An imbalanced diet includes a diet low in legumes, milk, omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits and calcium. High consumption of sugar and trans fat due to growing urbanisation often leads to sedentary and stressed lifestyles which in turn contribute to factors that lead to imbalanced diet.
Interestingly, chewing tobacco and tobacco consumption were found not to play any significant role in the occurrence of NCDs, and alcohol consumption was found to have an even smaller impact on the prevalence of NCDs. "Together, these intoxications, deeply connected to modern-day lifestyle, were found to have a much lesser impact on the occurrence of NCDs," the study states.
The study notes that genetic and hereditary factors have a significant impact on the prevalence of NCDs, but the factors of causality cannot directly be determined with certainty with individual or group of diseases. "Nevertheless, genetic factors have an overwhelming impact on the incidence of NCDs. Throwing light on the co-morbidity of NCDs with each other, the survey underlined that hypertension has the highest comorbidity with almost all NCDs. This is followed by diabetes, kidney and digestive disorders in their relative simultaneous occurrence in morbidity.
"This coexistence, according to the survey, is followed by diabetes and respiratory diseases. On the other hand, cancer and kidney disease were found to have lower comorbidity," it says. The reports also says that significant variation exists in India when it comes to the prevalence of NCDs in different geographies and states.
It says the population of northern, central and western regions of the country has lower NCDs prevalence than the national average, while the prevalence is quite high in lesser developed regions of India, including eastern and north-east regions. Odisha was found to have the highest prevalence of NCDs (272 per 1,000 population), while Gujarat registered the lowest prevalence (60 per 1,000). Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal were the other states where NCDs prevalence was higher than the national average. This calls for state-specific strategies to tackle NCDs, the study adds.
"NCDs affect both rural and urban populations. There is, however, higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in urban areas due to migration and differences in living conditions. Family structure also has a bearing on the prevalence of NCDs as individuals from nuclear families are more prone to these diseases in comparison to joint families due to more workload and perhaps higher stress," it says. Speaking at the launch of the report, Chairman, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Max HealthCare, Ambrish Mithal said the overpowering disease is diabetes and it has exponentially grown in India.
"To face more pandemics, we need to focus on non-communicable diseases and work to bring them down," he said.