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Special Content

Volume-24, 14-20 September 2019

Fit India Movement: A Step Towards Healthy India


Mohit Mishra

A recent National Family Health Survey has revealed that 1 in 10 women and 1 in 7 men of age 15-49 are hypertensive. According to World Health Organization, India has the highest number of diabetics at 5.08 crores. 2.5 crore Indians suffer from cardiovascular diseases which amount to 60% of the global figure. A latest research 'Body Burden: Lifestyle Diseases' on the state of India's health has claimed thatover 61 per cent of all deaths in India are due to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Though India has improved its ranking on a global healthcare access and quality (HAQ) index from 153 in 1990 to 145 in 2016, however, it still ranks behind Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brazil, Russia and South Africa and well below the global average. At a time when the global HAQ index average is 54.4, India's scored 41.2 (2016). This was 24.7 in 1990. The HAQ index was created on a study titled Global Burden of Disease. The number of overweight and obese people in India has doubled between 2005 and 2015. Among individuals aged between 15-49 years, 20.7 per cent of women and 18.6 per cent of men have been found to be overweight or obese.More than 10 per cent of the country's population over the age of 18 suffers from various kinds of mental illnesses. Unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and overweight together contribute about a quarter of the total disease burden in India presently, as compared with a little over a tenth of the total disease burden in 1990; these are linked to lifestyle choices and hence are termed as lifestyle diseases.

Lifestyle Diseases

Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people. Habits that detract people from activity and push them towards a sedentary routine can cause a number of health issues that can lead to chronic non-communic-able diseases that can have near life-threatening consequences. These diseases include atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and diseases associated with smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. The young generation is getting more and more trapped with these non-communicable diseases because of unhealthy and inappropriate life style. Increasing job requirements, sedentary lifestyle and competitive living are making people prey to non-communicable diseases. People who eat a high calorie diet without adequate exercise are in greater danger of lifestyle disorders. There is a drastic increase in the incidence of long term and chronic diseases. Though the improvement in medical facilities, healthcare system, and sanitation have reduced the incidence of communicable and vector borne diseases like malaria and cholera, but lifestyle diseases are on the rise both in urban and rural areas. These non-communicable diseases, chiefly cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow in progression. They are the major cause of adult mortality and illness worldwide.

Some of the most common type of lifestyle diseases are the following:

Obesity: It is a disease that involves an excess amount of body fat. Body mass index (BMI) is a tool that doctors use to assess if a person is at an appropriate weight for their age, sex, and height. The measurement combines height and weight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates that a person is carrying excess weight. A BMI of 30 or over suggests that a person may have obesity. Usually, obesity results from a combination of inherited factors, combined with the environment and personal diet and exercise choices.A diet that's high in calories, lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food, and laden with high-calorie beverages and oversized portions contributes to weight gain. There are foods that tend to increase the risk of weight gain like fast foods, fried foods, such as french fries, fatty and processed meats, many dairy products, foods with added sugar, such as baked goods, ready-made breakfast cereals, and cookies foods containing hidden sugars, such as ketchup and many other canned and packaged food items, sweetened juices, sodas, and alcoholic drinks. The sedentary lifestyle, stress, lack of sleep, microbiome and lack of awareness are other factors that contribute to Obesity. It is estimated that India will have over 1.7 crore obese children by 2025 and stand second among 184 countries where the number of obese children are concerned.

Type II diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It happens when blood sugar levels rise due to problems with the use or production of insulin. The condition arises when the insulin pancreas makes can't work properly, or the pancreas can't make enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the movement of blood glucose, or sugar, into cells, which use it as energy. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to appear after the age of 45 years, but it can affect children and teens also. The condition arises when individuals have excess weight, do not do much physical activity, have high blood pressure or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. The major symptoms of the disease are weight loss, despite increased appetite and hunger, extreme thirst and dry mouth, frequent urination and urinary tract infections, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing of cuts or wounds, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, itchy skin. Diabetes is a growing challenge in India with estimated 8.7% diabetic population in the age group of 20 and 70 years is driven by a combination of factors - rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, tobacco use, and increasing life expectancy. Much of the diabetes burden can be prevented or delayed by behavioural changes favouring a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Cardiovascular diseases: Cardiovascular diseases are a collective of various kinds of heart ailments, stroke and diseases of blood vessels nourishing the limbs. Of them, coronary artery disease, also called ischemic heart disease-symptomised by the hardening of arteries-and strokes account for most deaths. Coronary artery disease (CAD), is a condition in which cholestrol, calcium, and other fats accumulate in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Certain risk factors increase the chances of developing heart disease. More common heart disease risk factors include High cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart disease in a close blood relative, Obesity, High blood pressure and Smoking. The factors and choices that increase the risk of heart disease include: Eating a diet high in fat, Being impatient, aggressive, and/or competitive, Being physically inactive or Experiencing emotional distress. Some of the symptoms of heart disease may include: Jaw pain, Chest pain, Back pain (typically left-sided), Abdominal pain, Lightheadedness and Shortness of breath. A recent study has revealed that Cardiac ailments killed more Indians in 2016 (28%) than any other non-communicable disease. It claimed that about 5.45 crore people were affected by the disease in 2016 compared to 2.57 crore in 1990.

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a medical condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. High blood pressure does not usually cause symptoms. Very high blood pressure can cause headaches, blurred vision, nosebleeds, difficulty breathing, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, blood in the urine, confusion, or pounding in the chest, neck, or ears. According to a recent research paper, one in five young adults in India has high blood pressure, that equates to around 8 crore people, which is more than the entire UK population.

Fit India Movement

On the occasion of National Sports Day on 29th August this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India Movement. The objective of this initiative is to make fitness the lifestyle of the people of the country. It endeavors to bring about behavioural change and introducing basic fitness practices in the daily lives of Indians, a majority of whom lack access to sports or fitness infrastructure in their neighbour-hoods. Some of the essential features of the movement are walking 8-10 kilometers daily, focus on curbing cardiovuscular disease & laziness, decreasing hypertention, diabetes, cholestrol and decreasing cancer level, and to unite and set a common goal for whole country. The movement is a joint effort of the various ministries including Sports, Human Resource Development, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.

The Prime Minister said that 'Fit India Movement' should become a national goal and its aspiration. He said, Success is related to fitness, success stories of all of our icons from any field of life have a common thread- most of them are fit, have a focus on fitness and are fond of fitness. The Prime Minister said, "Technology has reduced our physical ability and has robbed us of our daily fitness routines and today we are unaware of our traditional practises and lifestyle which could keep us fit. With time, fitness has been relegated a lower priority in our society. Earlier a person used to walk or cycle for kilometers, today mobile apps have to tell us how many steps we walked".

"Today lifestyle diseases are on a rise in India affecting even the young. Cases of diabetes and hypertension is on the rise and even common among children in India. But small lifestyle changes can prevent these lifestyle diseases. 'Fit India Movement' is an effort to bring these small lifestyle changes", the PM said.

The Prime Minister said that people in any profession can make themselves efficient in their profession if they are mentally and physical fit. If body is fit, then you would be mentally fit. Sports has a direct relation to fitness but 'Fit India Movement' aims to go beyond fitness. Fitness is not just a word but an essential pillar to a healthy and prosperous life. When we prepare our bodies for battle, we make the country strong as iron. Fitness is part of our historic legacy. Games and sports are played in every nook and corner of India. While working on the body they also train the mind, increasing focus and coordination of body parts. A healthy Individual, a healthy family and a healthy society are the essentials to make New India a Fit India.

The Prime Minister had made the announcement of Fit India launch on 'Mann Ki Baat' on August 28. The Prime Minister said that we have to keep ourselves fit and make the nation also fit. The Fit India Movement will be for all men, women and children.

A 28-member committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of sports minister Kiren Rijiju to advice government on 'Fit India Movement'. It has 12 members from the government, including secretaries of Sports, Secondary Education, Ayush, Youth Affairs, among others. IOA President and seven NSF heads, including those of boxing, athletics, football and cycling, are also a part of the committee. Representatives of private bodies such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Reliance Foundation, JSW Cement and JSW Paints, SE TransStadia Pvt. Ltd., Tata Trusts, ASSOCHAM India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), and actors Shilpa Shetty and Milind Soman will also be involved. World Badminton champion PV Sindhu, sprinter Hima Das, wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and several other sports icons have supported Mr. Modi's campaign. A special focus of the campaign is on rural India that lacks basic facilities to improve physical well-being and awareness of fitness. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked affiliated higher educational institutes to prepare and implement an institutional fitness plan incorporating sports/ exercises/ physical activities for fitness, into the daily routine. The commission has also asked institutes to encourage every person to walk 10,000 steps. They have also been told to upload their fitness action plans on UGC's "Fit India Movement Portal" which is under development. The Fit India Movement will also encourage Indian classical and folk dances. The various forms of dances in our country would be linked with the fitness campaign. Social media platform are being used to put out stories of local icon who are fit and healthy.

(The Author is a Senior Journalist. email mohitmishra 1@gmail.com.)

Views expressed are personal.

(Image Courtesy : Google)