A large number of premature deaths in India are caused by preventable diet-related diseases, said researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, suggesting the heavy impact of diet on our health. According to the researchers, more than 60 per cent of premature deaths are caused by preventable cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, indicating a pressing need for further research on the issue.
“Through working with leading researchers, dieticians and medical clinicians in India, we have developed a suitable measure of habitual diet that takes into account diverse eating patterns and socioeconomic gradients in the population who have high susceptibility to both nutrient deficiency and non-communicable disease,” Dr McEvoy, lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, was quoted as saying about the research.
The experts also pointed out the “double burden of malnutrition” as a major challenge in the country, with high levels of under-nutrition coexisting with over-nutrition and related diseases. “It is vital that we begin to collate this data now at a national level, so that we have the knowledge to inform healthcare policies and healthcare planning around this epidemic. The next stage of our research will be to test the feasibility of the diet measure on a wider scale,” Dr McEvoy added.
Over the next 30 years, the proportion of adults in India is set to increase from eight per cent to 19 per cent, leading to increased preventable disease coupled with increased food demand.
Dr A B Dey, professor and head of department of Geriatric Medicine, AIIMS, explained, “Interpretation of nutrition research is as complex as the cooking in India where the dialect and the diet change every 100 miles. Understanding the impact of diet on cognitive ageing can be interesting. Are the spices protective in the genesis of dementia? What would be the impact of a protein deficient diet on ageing of the brain? Is it possible to develop a tool which can capture the dietary pattern across the country? These are some of the issues which are being addressed by a very productive collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.”
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