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Work pressures telling on health of IT pros: Study

K.V. Kurmanath

Hyderabad , Dec. 17

YOUNG. Earning high salaries. Punctuates long working hours with junk food, coffee and aerated drinks. Holds the latest hand-held devices and speaks a language filled with IT jargon. Perhaps, these attributes could best describe IT and ITES pros.

But there is a flipside, warns a medical specialist in occupational hazards.

"These are pros sitting on a powder keg of a variety of health hazards," Dr Bakhtiar Choudary told Business Line.

Preliminary results of a study conducted among IT professionals in the city are alarming. The effects of work pressures and long stints at workstations are telling. Thirty per cent of the respondents are obese. Young couples report infertility, thanks to irregular shifts and lack of rest.

More than half of the respondents complain they feel terribly tired at the end of the day's work and 18 per cent (mostly team leaders) feel dead exhausted. Forty-six per cent report muscular pain.

"IT pros in the age group of 22-27 are considered highly successful, taking up tough projects and working for very long hours. Most of the times they live on junk food, sipping lots of coffee or soft drinks freely available at the vending machines," the senior consultant in sports medicine and ergonomics at Apollo Hospitals said.

Dr Choudhary has published papers on repetitive strain injuries, water safety in IT industry and `Can we prevent occupational stress in computer professionals' in the Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The sample size is small but drops enough hints at the shape of things to come.

About 300 IT professionals, with no family history of risk factors (such as blood pressure and diabetes) working in various IT and ITES companies in Hyderabad were included in the study.

Another major problem for these people is that they need to meet very tight deadlines. "They have just joined these jobs after enjoying a life full of freedom at colleges. They are not strong mentally and emotionally to cope with the demanding work," he said.

About 20 per cent of the respondents have potential blood pressure problems. About 90 per cent of them do not do any physical exercise at all.

He advises the IT professionals to cut down on high sodium foods such as papads and pickles, tinned food, bakery items and stored food. They should cut down on coffee. Instead, they should insist on fruit-based foods, comprising fibre and vegetable-based stuff.

Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming for at least four sessions (of 20-30 minutes) a week will help prevent BP fluctuations.

Neck and back postures too should be given due importance, Dr Choudhary says. Those with family history should be extra cautious, he adds.

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