As India's stakes in the financial world go higher, so does the waistline of her workforce. Here's why the future of India shining might get dimmer.

Indians are growing richer, but at a heavy cost to their own health. A report published in British medical journal, The Lancet, sheds light on the unhealthy side of India Inc.

According to the study, headed by Vikram Patel from the Sangath Centre in Goa, the rapidly improving socio-economic status in India is linked with a reduction of physical activity and increased rates of obesity and diabetes.

"It used to be rare for people under 40 to suffer from diabetes, heart attacks or high blood pressure. Nowadays it's common to see 30 year-olds suffering from the same," says cardiologist Dr Hasmukh Patel from Fortis Hospital. Lack of exercise, increased pressure to perform and long working hours are the primary causes, according to Dr Patel.

"It's important that you take up a job only if you can handle the stress. Also, it's the organisation's responsibility to ensure a stress-free working environment," he says.

Company policy

Companies, however, say that they are already on the job. "We understand that a healthy employee is a happy employee. Regular health check-ups, stress tests and ways to monitor employee health are mandatory. Our canteen serves food that is healthy, which is important given the sedentary lifestyle led by employees," says VK Menon, Head of Corporate Communication at a multinational electronics company.

For employees, who have physically demanding jobs, a leading natural gas distribution company offers periodic health talks and medical consultations for employees."A heart attack will take away years from your life, so it's advisable to take a break and go slow," says Dr Patel.

While it may be satisfying to burn the midnight oil , don't forget to ask yourself: At what cost?

3 ways to beat the time-is-money syndrome

Challenge: You have a sedentary job

Solution: Walk around as much as you can within the office. Make it a habit to drink two litres of water during a typical 8-hour workday. Instead of a one-litre bottle, keep a 250 ml bottle handy, which means you need to make eight trips to the water cooler. Take a brisk 10-minute walk post-lunch to beat the afternoon slump. Make it a habit to always take the stairs. Simple movements like neck and shoulder rotations will take stiffness away. Offices encourage brief breaks, so take this time to do a bit of stretching.


Challenge: You don't have time to eat a healthy lunch

Solution: Eating healthy is important, as it not only keeps you fit, but also helps reduces stress levels. Keep lunch light. If you can't have it packed from home, opt for a fruit plate from the canteen or the neighbourhood juicewallah.

Instead of hoping for a one-hour lunch break, and then skipping it because of demanding deadlines, set aside 15 minutes to grab a bite.

This will help ensure that you don't binge on oily and fatty foods later on in the day, and also give you time to de-stress for a few minutes in the day. A mid-morning snack like a fruit/ oil-free khakras/ digestive biscuits, post breakfast will keep you going till that 2 pm meeting.


Challenge: You have to spend long hours in front of the computer.

Solution: Regardless of the view, make it a point to look away from the computer screen every 30 minutes for a few seconds. You could even roll your eyes (no, not to show contempt, though that might work too), or blink rapidly for about 10 seconds, as this helps keep the eyes lubricated and also reduces stress levels effectively.


3 fast facts from the study

* Indians are growing wealthier, but are exercising less and indulging in fatty foods. This puts them at a higher risk for developing heart or respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes.

* We also risk injury by driving more often and faster on the country's notoriously dangerous roads, often under the influence of alcohol.

* The country's continued economic growth will be at risk unless quick action is taken to improve the health of its growing population.

Courtesy: Mid Day