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Lifestyles kill over 50% of Indians below 60

The Union Health Ministry is launching a pilot project in six states - Assam, Punjab, Rajasthan, K'taka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - to encourage healthier lifestyles. Sanchita Sharma finds out.
Hindustan Times | By Sanchita Sharma, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 03, 2008 05:48 AM IST

Lifestyle diseases claim more than half of those who die under the age of 60 in India. In 2005, chronic ailments like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and chronic lung diseases accounted for 53 per cent (54.6 lakh) of the 1.03 crore deaths among people aged between 30 and 59 years.

To encourage healthier lifestyles, the Union Health Ministry is launching a pilot project to prevent and control heart disease, diabetes and stroke in one district each of six states. Called 'Pilot Programme for Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes and Stroke', the project has a budget of Rs 5 crore for a year, after which it will be extended to the whole country.

The six districts chosen are Kamrup in Assam, Jalandhar in Punjab, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, Shimoga in Karnataka, Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. “These districts offer a national footprint and will help identify underlying determinants of rising diseases among culturally and economically diverse cross-sections in both urban areas and villages,” said Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

The programme will help formulate prevention and control strategies for different states. “You cannot ask a rice-eating community to give up eating rice. The programme will offer alternatives, like asking rice-eaters to have more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes and lower the amount of sugar, salt, oil and processed food,” said a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert.

“Free health check-ups will be offered to help screen people and encourage them - especially those at risk — to make necessary lifestyle modifications,” said Ramadoss. The WHO Stepwise Approach will be used to gather information on risk factors.

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