Urban Living and Lifestyle Diseases: Causes and Concerns

unhealthy city - causes and concerns

Cities and urban centers are known to attract people since time immemorial. Better job opportunities, good educational facilities, better infrastructure and medical facilities etc in cities are some of the reasons why large number of people are attracted to big cities. In having improved services and amenities, cities definitely offer a better standard of living for its citizens. However, just like there are two sides to a coin, urban lifestyle comes with its own share of problems. Lack of open spaces, pollution, increased cost of living, hectic and stressful lives that urban people lead are some of the negative aspects of urban life. In fact, as pointed out by a recent study, urban life can make people susceptible to problems of obesity, infertility and depression.

People in cities are working harder and much longer compared to their rural counterparts for like 12 to 14 hours a day. This often leads to them facing a burnout, no time for exercise, eating fast food at odd hours. All these factors of the urban lifestyle are responsible for health problems like diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, arthritis, etc.” In fact, one in five people living in cities within the 30 to 35 age group are suffering from such problems. And therefore, its no surprise that stress and depression too are on the rise. India has 61.3 million people with diabetes. Globally, diabetes caused 4.6 million deaths in 2011. India has been crowned as the “diabetes capital” of the world.

A report, jointly prepared by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum says that India will incur an accumulated loss of $236.6 billion by 2015 on account of unhealthy lifestyles and faulty diet.  The resultant chronic diseases – heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and respiratory infections – which are ailments of long duration and slow progression, will severely affect people’s earnings. A 2008 World Health Organization report estimated that 36 million (63%) of worldwide deaths were caused by lifestyle diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease. Sample health data from US and England – the much-blamed “western influence” on lifestyle in urban India – shows that 33% of the US population and nearly 25% of England’s population is obese. Obesity increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer.

One fifth of the deaths in India are from coronary heart disease. By the year 2020, it will account for one third of all deaths. Heart disease in India occurs 10 to 15 years earlier than in the west. There are an estimated 45 million patients of coronary artery disease in India.  Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people from higher economic strata, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco or unhealthy food, and have limited access to health services. Children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to the risk factors that contribute to lifestyle diseases, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the effects of the harmful use of alcohol.

Urban lifestyle is degrading the health standards of our country. Certainly, the lifestyle diseases will indirectly affect the economy. So, it’s high time that we direct our energies towards healthier eating habits and adopt work-out regimes. So, what are you waiting for? Say goodbye to that couch and it time to hit the track 😉

Image by Joe_13 via Flickr

Ritika Kapoor

Ritika Kapoor is a researcher at the Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change, Bologna, Italy with advanced degrees from Furgusson College, Pune and University of Delhi.

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  1. Pingback: Urban Lifestyle Diseases: Prevention & Remedy - Delhi Greens Blog

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