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Sunday, September 4, 2011

‘1/3 armymen overweight, 80% have heart risk’

New Delhi: A study on the health of Indian Army personnel shows worrying results.     Four out of five personnel surveyed, including officers, suffered from pre-hypertension, about a third were overweight and two-thirds had low levels of good cholesterol, 
caused by lack of exercise. The prevalence of pre-hypertension was higher in the group than in others. While 40-60% Indians show the symptoms, it was 80% in the army. 
    The sample survey was conducted by the defence ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research on 767 "healthy" personnel including 130 officers. Their ages ranged from 18 to 50 years. 
'Low HDL cholesterol in 67% armymen' 
New Delhi: A study of the health of the Indian military not only shows a sharp rise in lifestyle diseases—the scourge of the Indian middle class—among soldiers, but also found a majority of the personnel had bad eating habits. Most of them added salt or pickle to their food and used ghee/butter regularly. 
    Almost 67% were found to have low HDL cholesterol level, a sign of low physical activity. And 30% had a body-mass rsatio of over 23, putting them in the overweight category. The report, published in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, calls for targeted intervention to reduce cardiovascular risk among soldiers. 
"Lifestyle modifications such as reducing the intake of saturated fats and salt in diet and reducing smoking can lower the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease," it said. 
    The study was conducted over a period of two years. Of the 767 personnel studied, 670 were married. Personnel with known history of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes were excluded from the study and only the "healthy" ones examined. Most of soldiers identified as pre-hypertensive were in the habit of using extra salt and pickles and had a lot of ghee or butter. 
    "In the army, we have an authorization scale for ration that includes fresh vegetables, fruit, 
bread, butter, rice and milk among others. But people also eat from outside," an officer said. 
    Dr Anoop Misra, director and head of the department of diabetes and metabolic diseases, Fortis Group of Hospitals, said the results were surprising. "We think military personnel have an active lifestyle and a good dietary intake. High prevalence of pre-hypertension among them is worrying ," he said. He added that high stress level could be another factor for pre-hypertension. Other experts called for limiting the intake of salt and oil products and snacks like chips and namkeen. They should be encouraged to take more green leafy vegetables and fruits and exercise regularly, they said.


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