In the last three years, there has been a marked increase in obesity, diabetes, lipid disorders, and hypertension among Indians, says a new report by Apollo Hospitals. In its annual “Health of the Nation 2023” report, the healthcare major says that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are behind 40 percent of all hospital stays in the country.

NCDs refer to chronic diseases that are not passed from person to person. It includes heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases.

According to the report, there was a 50 per cent increase in the prevalence of obesity among Indians between 2019 and 2022, while dyslipidemia or cholesterol irregularities saw an 18 per cent increase in prevalence during this period. The study added that diabetes and hypertension diagnoses have seen an 8 per cent and 11 per cent increase, respectively, between 2019 and 2022.

“There is also an increasing risk of hypertension among Indians over 45 years, with its prevalence in diagnosis having increased from 14 per cent to 16 per cent in the last three years,” the study added. 

Prathap Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, said that over the past three decades, NCDs have become the leading cause of death and suffering, contributing to 65 percent of deaths in the country. He added that the estimated economic burden on India due to NCDs is expected to be about $4.8 trillion by 2030. “Preventive healthcare needs to become a national priority,” Reddy said.

The report said, the median age of breast cancer diagnosis from mammograms done at Apollo in the last year was 54-57 years; lower than that seen in mature markets (where the median age of detection is 62-65 years). “This suggests an earlier onset of disease in Indian women, warranting annual screening for women from 40 years onwards,” it added.

The report said, regular and comprehensive health checks, starting at a young age, can significantly reduce mortality rates, disease incidence as well as the frequency of hospital visits through our lifespan.

NCDs across region

The report found that diversity in lifestyle has led to different NCD trends across different regions, likely impacted by regional diet preferences.

While liver diseases saw maximum prevalence in the east (at 50 per cent), its impact in south India is relatively less (28 per cent). The west has seen relatively the lowest prevalence of diabetes (15 percent) while the South has the highest (27 per cent).