This is the shocking state of health of Indian women

A recent study published in the reputed medical journal PLOS One, funded by the Central Government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), has revealed some startling findings of the health of Indian women. Diabetes is on the rise amongst urban women here, which makes them vulnerable to other diseases, leading to premature mortality. 17.7 per cent of urban middle-class women suffer from this disease, and so do 10 per cent of the poor.

Other findings show that there are major increases in BMI (Body Mass Index), waist-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, fasting glucose and cholesterol. This study evaluated 6853 women over 3-4 years as per populations across five sites in the country.

Urban women are most affected by all the above indicators. However, the trend among rural women is also on the rise. 22.5 per cent of rural women were found to be overweight- compare this to a whopping 45.6 per cent of urban poor and 57.4 per cent of urban middle-class women.


Photo Courtsey: mybindi

What are the reasons contributing towards this disturbing trend?

An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, coupled with various socio-economic factors is responsible for this condition of Indian women. They tend to devote a lot of time towards their families and are unable to give time to their bodies. Exercising among them is not as common as men, and they are also not regular with health checkups. Coupled with all this, their eating habits are also most irregular.

Economic growth has led to changes in the food consumption patterns. Relative costs of food items, availability, the prevalence of multi-brand retail stores and the e-commerce revolution, along with media influences, have impacted the diets of modern urban women. Add to this change in physical activity, which means the availability of various transport mediums. The availability of a vehicle at home results in minimum physical activity, which naturally contributes to the incidence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high weight.

If one talks about rural women, greater use of tobacco has contributed towards lifestyle diseases. This is a reflection of the environmental factors like the tobacco policy and societal acceptance towards smoking. Lower literacy also contributes towards the same.

Who is at maximum risk?

Urban middle-class women are at higher risk than the urban poor and rural. The prevalence of hypertension, impaired fasting glucose, abdominal obesity and hypercholesterolemia is much higher among urban middle class and urban poor women than those in the rural areas. Last year, over Rs 300 crores was allocated towards diagnosis and management of lifestyle diseases in India.

The DST study shows that multiple cardiovascular risks are visible among women today. Such a situation has developed over several years, and not just overnight. The effects of high consumption of fatty foods and very low levels of physical activity are finally showing up on the women. Walk into any restaurant in metro cities today, for example, and you will find a high number of overweight women.

So far, you have been going through a lot of bad news. Now here’s some good news as well.

With the Airtel Half Marathon coming up in Delhi shortly, a few trends have come to light about the marathons. It has been seen is that an increasing trend of women has been participating in these marathons. One major reason for the same is that the fact that women runners have positive ripple effects on family and society has been established. Some have also changed the diets of their children in order to inculcate healthy eating habits in them.