The rich and the unhealthy: understanding India's growing health crisis.


New Delhi, February 25 (IANSLife): In the last decade, India has undergone economic transformation with a significant increase in per capita income. This financial prosperity has improved the quality of life of many people across the country. However, this economic progress has also brought challenges, particularly to public health. As incomes rise in India, so do lifestyle diseases, highlighting the delicate balance that exists between prosperity and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 500 million people are projected to develop lifestyle diseases by 2030. This is estimated to cause a loss of approximately US$27 billion per year to the global economy. Thus, we are presented with a worrying picture – as income increases, so does the prevalence of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and obesity.

Healthcare Sector in India: Shortcomings and Challenges Ahead

India's unexpected health crisis

Despite India's initial economic boom, the effects of this sudden influx of prosperity are already clearly visible. Increasing sedentary lifestyle, lack of work-life balance, excessive consumption of processed foods and increasing addiction to tobacco and alcohol have led to a sharp increase in health problems. Diseases such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are estimated to account for 60% of all deaths, making them the leading causes of mortality in the country.

India is also in the midst of a diabetes epidemic, with more than 70 million cases by 2022, projected to rise to 134 million by 2045. The widespread effects of diabetes also contribute to this health care crisis, including a greater likelihood of kidney, eye disorders and even blindness, nerve damage, poor wound healing and greater susceptibility to other infections. Can also happen.

The changing face of disease

The demographics most affected by lifestyle diseases are changing. These disorders are now taking the lives of young individuals, often in their productive years, and often affect individuals who have not even reached middle age. Fifty percent of all heart attacks in India occur in men under the age of 50, including 25% in men under the age of 40. This changing paradigm demands significant change in India's health care approach, moving from a predominantly reactionary model focused on diagnosis. And treatment is one that prioritizes early detection, active monitoring, and preventive health care strategies.

Affluenza as a recurring epidemic

It is clear that increases in income go hand in hand with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases. This mirrors a pattern seen around the world – as economies develop and household incomes rise, so does a specific set of diseases. We have already seen this pattern in the post-World War II boom in the United States and in China in the late 90s and early 2000s. As individuals transition from lower-middle class to middle-class status, their consumption habits undergo significant changes. With increased disposable income, the tendency to consume more processed foods, sugary beverages and eating out has increased. The availability and affordability of alcohol and tobacco products also contribute to lifestyle choices that can lead to chronic health conditions.

middle class welfare net

Once individuals move into the upper-middle class, they generally prioritize their health and well-being. This is when they move beyond material comforts and start investing in self-improvement – ​​preventive health care measures like gym memberships, organic foods, and regular checkups and screenings. However the change to a health-conscious lifestyle is not immediate for everyone. In a country like India, this is made worse by the difficulty in crossing that last socioeconomic hurdle. While much of the country has begun the transition from lower to middle class, moving from middle to upper-middle class is a much tougher hurdle to overcome.

As our economy continues to grow, its concurrent decline in well-being is raising concerns about the country's health trajectory. Proactive measures are needed to address the root causes of lifestyle diseases. This includes comprehensive public health campaigns promoting healthy eating, regular physical activity, stress management, and smoking cessation. Workplace wellness programs can also play an important role in encouraging employees to prioritize their health amid demanding work schedules. By raising awareness, promoting personal responsibility and implementing policies that support healthy lifestyles, India can tackle the complexities of prosperity while protecting the well-being of its population.



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