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About The Non-Communicable Diseases


The new national estimates for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) shows that 31 million more Indians became diabetic in four years (2019-2021).


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Non-communicable diseases
  2. Findings of the Study
  3. Significance of the Study
  4. Impact on India
  5. Way Forward

About Non-communicable diseases:

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are medical conditions that are not caused by infectious agents and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
  • NCDs are generally long-lasting and progress slowly over time.
  • They are often associated with lifestyle factors, environmental influences, and genetic predisposition.
Common examples of non-communicable diseases include:
  • Cardiovascular diseases: These include conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension (high blood pressure). They are usually related to factors like poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Cancer: Non-communicable diseases include various types of cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. Risk factors for cancer can include tobacco use, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, unhealthy diet, and family history.
  • Chronic respiratory diseases: Conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and occupational lung diseases fall under this category. Factors such as tobacco smoke, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and occupational hazards contribute to the development of these diseases.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels. It can be of two main types: type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in childhood, and type 2 diabetes, which is typically associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet.
  • Mental health disorders: While mental health conditions can have various causes, some are considered non-communicable diseases. These include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
  • Chronic kidney disease: This refers to the long-term damage to the kidneys, leading to reduced kidney function over time. Diabetes, hypertension, and certain genetic factors can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease.

Findings of the Study:

  • The study conducted in 2021 revealed the following statistics related to non-communicable diseases in India:
    • 101 million people had diabetes.
    • 136 million people had prediabetes.
    • 315 million people had high blood pressure.
    • 254 million people had generalized obesity.
    • 351 million people had abdominal obesity.
    • 213 million people had hypercholesterolemia.
    • 185 million people had high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
  • The study was a decade-long nationwide research project funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The study involved 1,13,043 individuals from 31 states and some Union Territories.
  • The results of the study will be published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

Significance of the Study:

  • The study is the first comprehensive epidemiological research paper in India that includes a large and diverse sample size.
  • The study revealed two significant trends:
    • Diabetes and other metabolic non-communicable diseases are more prevalent in India than previously estimated.
    • While currently urban areas have higher rates of metabolic NCDs, rural areas are expected to experience a diabetes explosion in the next five years if not addressed.
  • The study highlights variations between states and regions in terms of disease prevalence:
    • Goa, Puducherry, and Kerala had the highest diabetes prevalence.
    • Sikkim had a high prevalence of prediabetes.
    • Punjab had the highest prevalence of hypertension.
    • Puducherry had the highest rates of generalized and abdominal obesity.
    • Kerala had high rates of hypercholesterolemia and high LDL cholesterol.
    • U.P., Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Jharkhand had the lowest prevalence of NCDs.
  • The findings emphasize the need for urgent state-specific policies and interventions to address the rising epidemic of metabolic non-communicable diseases in India.
  • While the diabetes epidemic is stabilizing in more developed states, it continues to increase in most other states.
Additional Information:
  • The study provides new national estimates for diabetes and other NCDs, revealing that an additional 31 million Indians became diabetic within four years (2019-2021).
  • The study is the first of its kind in India, involving a large sample size of 1,13,043 individuals from 31 states and Union Territories.
  • The combination of malnutrition and obesity in India, along with exposure to fast food, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, and stress, contributes to the vulnerability of the population to NCDs.

Impact on India:

  • The study highlights the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India, particularly diabetes and hypertension with obesity.
  • The population affected by these conditions is at a higher risk of developing life-altering medical conditions, including strokes.
  • India is facing the challenge of both malnutrition and obesity, with unhealthy lifestyle factors such as fast food consumption, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and stress contributing to the prevalence of NCDs.

Way Forward:

  • The focus should be on promoting wellness and adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • The Indian Health Ministry has identified cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes as major NCDs and has implemented programs to address them.
  • Efforts are being made to strengthen health infrastructure, develop human resources, promote health awareness, and encourage prevention, early diagnosis, and appropriate treatment of NCDs.
  • It is crucial to address the dual problem of malnutrition and obesity and create an environment that supports healthy behaviors to prevent the further spread of NCDs.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023