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Doc warns against lifestyle diseases

Subrata Maitra

Critical care expert Subrata Maitra on Friday cautioned against “silent killer” diseases that the western lifestyle had spawned in India.

The paunch is the most harmful form of obesity for a population in India struggling to juggle the double burden of lifestyle-related ailments like hypertension and diabetes with inherited hazards such as malnutrition and infections, he said at an Asiatic Society lecture on “preventive strategies in lifestyle diseases”.

“You name a lifestyle disease and we have it in India… and they are growing. Take Ischemic heart disease, it affects Indians at an early age compared to the West. The country is all set to become the diabetic capital of the world by 2025 and there are so many patients suffering from cancer and lung diseases,” he said.

“With economic development, critical-care facilities have become better. But on the flipside, hospital-acquired infections have come into the picture, and these turn fatal at times.”

Maitra cited findings from studies done at different periods of time to prescribe techniques for reducing the risk of acquiring certain diseases.

He referred to a five-year research in the late 1950s, called the “Seven Country Study”, to dispel myths that ill-habits affect all people in a similar way.

The study conducted in Japan, the US and five European countries found that the Japanese were blessed genetically with low cholesterol levels despite being compulsive smokers. The picture in Finland was just the opposite.

Another study in China found that 30 minutes of workout five times a week reduced the risk of a heart attack for a group of elderly people. A group of the same age remained idle during the period and the results were unpleasant.

Maitra said it was imperative to follow a healthy lifestyle and reduce “central obesity” or the paunch. He added as an afterthought that ilish macher dim bhaja would not taste as good if cooked in olive and rapeseed oil, the healthiest cooking mediums.