That is what the third edition of the Youth Health Mela 2014 imparted, finds out Payal Chhabria

How often do you get immersed in work, and skip your meal? How often do you chat away on your mobile phone, until midnight (at least)? How often do you sleep for less than six-hours a day? How often do you indulge in sinful, cheese-saturated delicacies, alcohol drinks, or tobacco? If your answer is, “Very”, then the Youth Health Mela, held at Valluvar Kottam recently, was just for you.

Two successful editions later, this year, once again, Dr. Vidhubala E, Head of Department of Psycho-Oncology, and Chief of Resource Centre for Tobacco Control at the Adyar Cancer Institute, along with 11 collaborators, put together the III edition of the Youth Health Mela that focused on imparting health education, and food and lifestyle management skills to youngsters, specifically. And why so?

“All Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Cancer stem from poor lifestyles and food habits,” says Dr. Vidhubala, “Most of the people who are affected, and die from these diseases fall in the age bracket of 39 and 60 years. So it is mandatory to set things right, when people are young.”

Reaching out

The festival, this year, was broken into different components — exhibitions, symposiums, competitions, physical activities, cultural events — all of which worked alongside each other to reach out to youngsters naturally, and also to people who are involved in the supply chain of goods, crops, groceries, food, and the like, with a single, common goal.

“Exclusive three-hour-long symposiums were conducted for traders, particularly,” she elaborates.

“We are all equally responsible for the poor health statistics in India. Most often, scientific information never reaches the common man, the lay man, and the policy makers, and hence, they fail to do the needful to provide better quality. The symposiums were for people who supply grocery, for hoteliers, and for the media, to make them conscious of what can affect.”

The highlight of the Festival was the millets food court that offered platters of organic food, including green and leafy vegetables and millets, of course.

Dr. Pasupathi Venkatraman, who was available to answer questions at a session on Youth and Food, says, “The damage done by the media and what it endorses is too enormous for a five-day health mela to reverse. It is amazing that the doctors from the Cancer Institute have taken time off to host this, in spite of being well-aware of the levels of neglect and ignorance of the society. It is time youngsters become more sensible, and value health, and realise that the only possible insurance against risk is awareness.”

The festival culminated with a run for children, an exercise initiated by the Sparrc Institute to promote the benifits of running.

Every year, the festival honours a candidate for his outstanding contribution to health.

This year, Hemant Goswami, founder and member of Burning Brain Society, Chandigarh, was awarded for his extensive work towards tobacco control in the country.

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