The demographic dividend is dying :(

Yesterday morning while having breakfast at the hotel we were staying in, I went to get a spoonful of dried fruits – figs and raisins. The raisins were fine, but the figs had been cut into pieces and sugar had been added !! Chennai has this deep addiction to sugar and now increasingly ghee. Obesity in women has reached alarming proportions and besides being the diabetic capital, it’s fast becoming a lifestyle diseases capital :(. What’s even more heartbreaking is this part of India has the healthiest breakfast – Idlis. The other disturbing trend is children eating sugar cubes as though it’s food … Just notice in restaurants, if the parents order tea or coffee and sugar cubes or sugar packets are brought, children just pick them up. I don’t know if baby cereals have sugar, or if parents add sugar to get babies to eat the cereal – it’s an addiction and a dangerous one.

Three weeks back we got news of a dear friend’s young child afflicted with cancer. Last year similarly another friend’s child battled cancer. My friend Rama is a cancer survivor. The children above are also cancer survivors and thank God for that and may both of them and Rama, live long healthy lives. We also heard of a distant cousin battling cancer, two mothers in advanced stages of cancer and Don, we lost you to cancer last year. Celebrity cancer survivors – Manisha Koirala, YuvraJ and Lisa Ray…. Ok you get the grim picture ?

Last week’s India Today’s cover was on Cancer. Read editor Aroon Purie’s editorial here India Today Cancer special.

The fact that cancer is now the number one killer in India is alarming, what is even more worrying are the statistics in the article – 80% cancers in India are detected late when recovery is difficult; 71% of cancer deaths are patients between the ages of 30 to 69; 15% of the afflicted are minors as against the world average of 0.5%. And 50% of the cancers are due to obesity and tobacco usage – both completely avoidable and lifestyle related.

The demographic dividend that we keep feeling happy about is eroding and eroding fast due to disease…. Many of which can be completely avoided. I read in the Jan 2014 issue of the Reader’s Digest that urban psychiatrists are seeing an alarming rise in lifestyle disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia in young girls – in many cases leading to death, all because they want to be size zero !!

Young India is killing itself by smoking or eating too much (obesity) or eating too little (anorexic) or malnutrition or suicide over petty things like marks or getting a heart attack in their 30s due to stress, drinking or smoking or cancer… Alarmed yet ? You should be. We all are either contributors or are victims – both roles have to reverse and right now.

It’s not all that difficult – cut out sugar completely, in all forms, reduce intake of salt, ideally give it up and don’t introduce your children to either and just walk everyday for even 20 minutes. Switch the darned TV off and get out of the house, the pollution won’t kill you because others like you will also be out walking :). At the office, go to a different spot away from your desk to eat lunch. Get moving, eat slowly, give up sugar and reduce salt – yes there is a bigger list of things you could do, but start with these first.

At the rate we are going … There will be no demographic dividend ! :(:(

The following map of India is from the article in India Today…


2 thoughts on “The demographic dividend is dying :(”

  1. Just last week I realised that I am developing this tendency to just collapse into a chair when I get back from work and sorta stay there till dinner time. This has started because we now have a cook. That beings me to the other point in your blog, the affliction to ghee, sugar et al. My cooks is horrified that I ask her to use minimal or no ghee, while ghee would prefer to soak the parathas and rotis in ghee, I guess because they cook faster that way.

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