Health Matters | Nothing sweet about this surge

This week in health: the remarkable Y chromosome, India’s anaemia jigsaw puzzle and the emotional link to ADHD.

Updated - June 21, 2023 11:11 am IST

Published - June 20, 2023 11:35 am IST

Image for representational purpose only.

Image for representational purpose only. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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There was no escaping the wide-ranging discussions on the state of the nation’s metabolic health these last couple of weeks. After the ICMR-Indiab final report last week established without a doubt, burgeoning numbers for diabetes, hypertension, obesity and dyslipidemia, painted a clear picture of the steep curve of rising non-communicable diseases in India. We don’t have to look too far for an explanation as to why this came to be: unhealthy diets — including excessive consumption of fast foods, foods that are high in salt and sugar — and a sedentary lifestyle, add to boot, population-specific risk factors for diabetes in the Indian population. If you want to learn more about sugar and its impact on health, here is a list of books that will come in handy to equip yourself.

Naturally enough, there was a scramble to discuss what this means for the country, and how prepared health systems must be to handle a crisis of this magnitude. This included suggestions to conduct population-level screening programmes periodically, spread the message of preventing complications with the effective, and yet, simple idea of effecting lifestyle changes. In this context, there was an example cited too, with Tamil Nadu’s Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam programme - a public health project literally translated as medicine at the doorsteps of the people - that could be emulated by other States grappling with ways to take the rising burden. 

It turned out, over the course of the week, that in addition to all the endorphins released during a workout, an Australian study proved there was a substantial gain from moderate to vigorous workout for the prevention of non-communicable diseases — it lowered the risk of diabetes even among those who had a genetic predisposition for diabetes. Indian endocrinologists, in tune with the Indian psyche, said the trick is to live ‘fidgety’

If genetics and evolutionary biology send you into the throes of ecstasy, then this is something you must not miss: Did you know that 0.5% of all the men in the world have inherited a Y chromosome from the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan or one of his descendants? The ‘remarkable’ Y chromosome and its role beyond sex-determination, is frankly, fascinating.

In sarkari news, after the government decided to leave out the question on anaemia during its NFHS survey and include a more elaborate evaluation in its Diet and Biomarker survey, here’s a look at whether this will lead one finally lead to all the pieces of India’s anaemia jigsaw puzzle coming together. Not much more information was available on the CoWIN data leak fracas that consumed our attention last week, but if you are catching up with the issue now, here’s the science behind what happened. The government also declared that its Jan Aushadi clinics, stocking generics, at a cheaper rate were seeing a great demand for diabetes, gastric issues, and cardiovascular ailments. What did we say about NCDs, earlier?

Also, there was encouraging news from the ‘Make in India’ realm. The Drugs Controller approved the first indigenously-developed animal-derived tissue engineering scaffold for healing skin wounds, developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, as a medical device.

From the Health pages

Even if you are pressed for time, hoard these links here, for they will bring you up to speed on the health news for the week:

What you might have known, but the ICMR chief says age and co-morbidities are definite factors that affect COVID-19 and its outcome. 

ADHD: Inattention and hyperactivity have been the focus of research – but emotional problems may be the missing link.

Research shows India can shorten tuberculosis treatment

Why doctors are asking for emergency use authorisation of newer antibiotics in India

As always, do put us on your radar, as we bring more health content your way. Get more of The Hindu’s health coverage here.

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