Lifestyle diseases-A cause of concern in Kashmir

"But most of the people are not ready to change their dietary and sleeping habits, rather they depend on medication."
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Representational Image wpengine/ Alicia Bruce [Creative Commons]

Almost every third person in the valley is suffering from a disease or disorder which is linked to lifestyle.

But most of the people are not ready to change their dietary and sleeping habits, rather they depend on medication.

The overall situation in Kashmir is not so good.  Lifestyle diseases have affected the health of people, especially the younger generation.

According to the top valley-based endocrinologists, cardiologists and pulmonologists, the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, fatty liver diseases, thyroid diseases,PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) and many others are mostly common among people in Kashmir. Even some cancers are found among patients due to a bad lifestyle.

Among girls, hormonal imbalance, PCOD and Thyroid diseases are very common.  PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) is a medical condition in which the woman’s ovaries produce immature or partially mature eggs in large numbers and over the time these become cysts in ovaries.

The most common cause of thyroid disease is thyroid autoimmunity, which is often caused by stress.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a medical condition in which the ovaries produce higher levels of androgen than usual, which interferes with development and release of the eggs. Some of the eggs develop into cysts, which are the little sacs filled with liquid. Instead of being released during ovulation, these cysts build up in the ovaries and at times even get enlarged.

Some females have hair and acne on their faces, loss of hair, irregular periods. Some married females have problems in uterus lining, problems in ovulation, infertility. Though, there is a treatment for hormonal imbalance. But focus should be on lifestyle. 

In a worrying trend, At Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, out of 100, 90 patients are suffering from diabetes, fatty liver, PCOD and thyroid disease.

Also, this institute has registered over 700 cases of Type 2 diabetic cases of adolescents below the age group of 25 in the last two years. There is a 20 percent increase in the cases over the past few years. In 2015, Type 2 diabetes was found only in 5 percent in the age group between 10 to 25 years. The growing cases of Type 2 diabetes in adolescents and children is a cause of great concern.

Doctors of all specialties believe that lifestyle is the main cause of diseases and disorders among valley people. Most of the doctors suggest their patients change their lifestyle rather than relying on medication.

Lifestyle diseases are connected with the way people live, eat, sleep and handle stress in life. These are non-communicable diseases. There are some lifestyle diseases which can be reversed. But People need to put in a lot of effort like exercising, avoiding stress, daily outdoor activities, healthy diet and to burn the calories as much as they can. Focus on foods and lifestyle habits is the need of hour.

According to the Lancet study, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in adolescents and young adults is dramatically increasing. Similar to older-onset type 2 diabetes, the major predisposing risk factors are obesity, family history, and sedentary lifestyle.

There is a so-called section in the society, especially women folk who believe women who have PCOD and Thyroid have difficulty in conceiving but it is not true.  If women focus on health, eating habits and avoid stress, all issues are easily treatable.  

Prevention of lifestyle diseases are to track and maintain healthy weight, focus on nutritious food, stay active both mentally and physically, sleep properly, avoid smoking, drinking, drugs, and go for regular preventive screening.

Habits that detract people from activity and push them toward a sedentary routine can cause a number of health issues that can lead to chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that can have near life-threatening consequences.

NCDs kill approximately 41 million people (71% of global deaths) worldwide each year, which includes 14 million premature deaths aged between 30 and 70 years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), projections of the total number of deaths from NCDs will increase to 55 million deaths by the year 2030.

In India, total number of deaths reported due to NCDs was 63% in 2016, and out of which 23% deaths were premature. As per 2016 NCDs report of WHO, prevalence of obesity was found to be 4%, diabetes 8% and raised blood pressure 24% among adults in India. As per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), there is increase in contribution of NCDs from 30% of total diseases burden Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in 1990 to 55% in year 2016 and increase in proportion of deaths from 37% in year 1990 to 62% in year 2016. Physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, stress, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol are major behavioural risk factors for lifestyle diseases.

According to a report, titled ‘Non-Communicable Diseases in India’, it was observed that India’s NCDs increase after 18 years and show a quantum leap when an individual crosses the age of 35 years. Hypertension, digestive diseases and diabetes are among the top three most prevalent NCDs; Cancer is the least prevalent.

According to the report, the prevalence of NCDs in India is 116 per 1,000 population, and shows a quantum jump among individuals above 35 years of age. NCDs are preventable and with changes in lifestyle, dietary habits and increase in physical activities, among others, its prevalence can be reduced/checked.


Changes in the lifestyle and timely interventions are helpful to prevent morbidity and mortality associated with these lifestyle diseases. It is the need of the hour to focus on lifestyle diseases to reduce future burden on health care facilities and reduce morbidity and mortality due to NCDs. The primary healthcare approach is helpful for early detection and timely treatment of lifestyle diseases interventions. Role of Family Physicians is important for non-pharmacological management (diet, exercise, stress management, etc.) of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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