Kerala leads in non-communicable diseases: Study

A community-based study in Kerala has found that the state leads in non-communicable diseases (NCD) and its associated risk factors. The state health department and the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology continuously monitored Thiruvananthapuram district for years to assess the burden of NCD risk factor, awareness, treatment and adequacy of control over hypertension and diabetes.

Information on behaviourial risk factors such tobacco use, diet, physical activity, alcohol use, measured anthropometry, blood pressure were also collected from 7,449 people, of which 51 per cent were women.

According to Prof K R Thankappan, head of Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, SCTIMST, the rest of the country is likely to follow the Kerala pattern. The co-author of one of the papers in the Lancet Series that was released on Monday, Thankappan said the study had observed a high burden of NCD risk factors, comparable to that of the United States.

"The data should help propel efforts to lower the burden of NCD risk factors in the country. Kerala state is a harbinger of what will happen in future to the rest of India in NCD," he said quoting the recent study that was coordinated by the Indian Council of Medical Research as a feasibility exercise in setting up national-level NCD risk factor surveillance mechanisms.

Using multiple logistic regression models the associations between socio-demographic and anthropometric variables with biochemical risk factors were estimated. "The burden of NCD risk factors was high in our sample," Thankappan said.

The prevalence of smoking in men (42 per cent) was double of that observed in the US. The prevalence of a diet low in fruits and vegetables (40%) and physical inactivity (7%) were considerably lower than in the United States, where the prevalence of these behavioural habits are 60-70 per cent and 11-23 per cent, respectively.

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