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Study on unhealthy rural burps

No one is surprised to see rural youths sharing a pack of branded chips or a bottle of cola. Change in food habits and lifestyle has not just hit urbanites hard, it is making inroads in suburbs and villages too.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is sponsoring a study across nine states in India to find out lifestyle and health issues and promote better dietary habits to reduce hypertension in suburban belts, is relying on RIMS public health and social medicine department in Jharkhand.

Department head Shamim Haider told The Telegraph that the study would help identify health hazards due to unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits.

Better known as the DISHA study, its full form is “diet and lifestyle interventions for hypertension risk reduction through anganvadi workers and accredited social health activists”.

“Till date, the focus of rural health workers has always been more on maternity and childcare. But this study will help us identify and address new-age lifestyle issues and guide health workers to address them,” Haider said.

Anganvadi centres will play a key role in assessing change in diet and lifestyle. They will also inform people about possible hazards via information-education-communication tools to reduce what are technically termed non-communicable diseases.

“We have already identified 3,600 households in Ratu and Namkum blocks for this three-year project and have already roped in active sahiyas and anganvadi workers for the job,” he said.

The study has three other secondary aims.

First, the study will assess the operational feasibility of integrating non-communicable diseases risk reduction in community health programmes through existing community healthcare volunteers such as sahiyas.

Secondly, it will evaluate the utility of trained healthcare workers to bring about changes in rural and suburban consumption of dietary fat, fibre and salt, tobacco and alcohol as well as inspiring people to increase physical activity.

Thirdly, the study will assess the efficacy of these interventions to evaluate changes in individual lipid profiles and glycemic indices.

A follow-up mechanism will be adopted in the next six months to check if suggestions given were followed and its impact tabulated.

Jharkhand apart, the other states where the study has been taken up include Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.


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