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Indians’ lifespan rises to 70.8 years

Author: Archana Jyoti
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: October 17, 2020
URL:      https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/pioneer-exclusive/indians----lifespan-rises-to-70-8-years.html

Over the last three decades, Indians have been increasingly living longer. On an average, Indians now are living a decade more than those during the early nineties. The life expectancy in India has risen from 59.6 years in 1990 to 70.8 years in 2019.

There’s a disparity in Statewise life expectancy increase though. An average Keralite now lives for 77.3 years while his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh for 66.9 years.

Nevertheless, both, as also from many other States, share a commonality — the quality of life is missing as they live more with illness and disability, according to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study, published in the Lancet journal on Friday.

The culprits, as the study pointed out, were air pollution, hypertension, tobacco use, poor diet and high blood sugar levels, the top-five risk factors for deaths in India in 2019.

The rising chronic illness can also fuel the Covid-19 death tally as people with co-morbidities are vulnerable to the deadly virus.

The study assessed more than 286 causes of death and 369 diseases and injuries in more than 200 countries and territories across the world and noted that India has gained more than a decade of life expectancy since 1990, but with wide inequalities between States.

However, it said the increase in “healthy life expectancy” in India has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy since “people are living more years with illness and disability”.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan too had on Thursday stressed the need to move from food security to nutrition security to achieve the goals of the “Eat Right India Movement” and urged other Ministries concerned to form a joint platform to determine common goals and strategy and synergise their actions.

The GBD study found that the largest contributors to increasing health loss in India over the last 30 years were non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like ischaemic heart disease, COPD, diabetes, and stroke.

In 2019, the research noted that the top-five risk factors for death in India were air pollution (contributing to an estimated 1.67 million deaths), high blood pressure (1.47 million), tobacco use (1.23 million), poor diet (1.18 million), and high blood sugar (1.12 million).

“Over the past decade there has been more than 0.5 per cent annual increase in the exposure to several highly preventable risks such as obesity, high blood sugar, alcohol use, and drug use globally,” said study lead author Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in the US.

“We are failing to change unhealthy behaviours, particularly those related to diet quality, caloric intake, and physical activity, in part due to inadequate policy attention and funding for public health and behavioural research,” Murray said.

The scientists said several of the risk factors and NCDs highlighted by the study, including obesity and diabetes are associated with increased risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19.


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