More than 40 per cent of the population in Punjab is overweight or obese; just under half the population is at high risk of contracting kidney ailments, and the prevalence rate of diabetes is five per cent higher than the national average.
A first-of-its-kind study conducted by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research and Punjab government hospitals on risk exposure to noncommunicable diseases (NCD) in the state has come out with these alarming findings.
The “steps” survey was submitted to the state government on Friday, according to a statement put out by PGI with some details of the study.
“The survey has revealed the alarming situation of the state,” said Prof. J S Thakur, Department of Community Medicine, PGI, who led the study. ‘We have recommended an action plan in the study. The situation may change if they implement our recommendations.”
The survey was conducted over 18 months in 22 districts of the state.
Of a sample of 5,400 respondents, 5127 participated in all three steps or phases of the survey — behavioural, biological and measurement. The participants were between 18 and 69 years in 2014-2015. Government Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala, Faridkot and Christian Medical College, Ludhiana were partners in the study along with PGI.
Along with a high prevalence of NCD risk factors in the state, the study found that the factors are present uniformly without any “significant difference by gender or rural urban differences”.
According to the study, two-fifths of Punjab is overweight and obese.
“41 per cent of respondents were overweight and obese in the survey ,” said Dr Thakur. “If waist circumference is considered, more than 80 per cent of respondents were overweight with central obesity.”
The prevalence rate of diabetes was also high (14 per cent), higher than the national nine per cent. The study found more than one-fifth of the adult population having raised triglycerides.
“Albumin creatinine ratio, an indicator of risk for chronic kidney diseases, was 44 per cent of population.” said the report.
Vini Mahajan, Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab government agreed it is a “serious problem”. “We have been taking measures to spread awareness about this and we would take measures in the future as well,” she told The Sunday Express. “”It is the public who have to understand the seriousness of the problem.”
The study was timely, said Mahajan, as “the information is now in the public domain about how serious the problem is”.
The survey pointed to the absence of physical activity among 75 per cent as a reason for obesity, and said this may also be a contributing factor for high prevalence of hypertension (40 per cent) in the state.
The study found 13.1 per cent prevalence of the tobacco habit. It found 27 per cent regular drinkers, with nine percent of them excessive drinkers. It was found that 96% consumed less than the recommended five servings daily of fruits and vegetables.
Raised blood pressure was present in 42 per cent of respondents but they were not undergoing any treatment.
The doctors who have conducted the study have made recommendations to the state government in the report.
Strengthening of health promotion activities in different settings, preventive health screening package, better treatment facilities, effective implementation of NCD in the state are the some of the recommendations in the study. Besides, a draft action plan has also been recommended.