City doctors point out that the poor living with lifestyle diseases suffer more than their rich counterparts.
“The poor can’t afford salads, fresh fruits or gyms. The cost of managing the disease is so high it affects the whole family. The compromised immunity also makes them more prone to infectious diseases,” said diabetologist Dr Anil Boraskar, who sees many patients from Dharavi slums at Raheja Hospital.
At the Urban Health Centre in Dharavi slums, nearly 12 per cent of patients treated in the last five months had diabetes, 17 per cent had hypertension.
“We checked the Body Mass Index of 100 women from the slum. Around 60 per cent of them were overweight, around 10 per cent obese,” said Dr Pallavi Shelke.
Doctors said these figures are the “tip of the iceberg” as no survey has been conducted to ascertain the burden of lifestyle diseases in the city’s slums.
KEM Hospital doctors are trying ‘lifestyle medicines’ to help Malvani’s slumdwellers tackle lifestyle diseases. They conduct yoga sessions at the Urban Health Centre where patients are taught pranayam, asanas and also get diet tips free of cost.
“India faces a triple burden — infectious diseases, non-infectious and lifestyle diseases, and deaths due to violence and injuries,” said health activist Ravi Duggal.
He added that while China is almost free of infectious diseases, the Indian government is still struggling to control malaria and TB. “And while infectious diseases can be cured and eradicated, lifestyle diseases are chronic. They can only be controlled, not cured.”