An alarming trend that many doctors have been noticing of late is the tendency of young professionals — some of them in their early 20s — to develop health problems normally associated with a much later stage in life. Systemic diseases like diabetes and hypertension top the list, along with cardiovascular issues. On top of this, more minor issues like joint ache, back pain and the like have become sadly common as well.
Partly, explains Dr Dayananda, a physician, this has to do with genetics. “This is true of many systemic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. They are genetic, and have a tendency to manifest at a younger age in each generation. For instance, if a grandfather develops such a problem in his 80s, a father might develop it in his 40s and in a son, it might manifest as early as in his 20s,” he elaborates.
However, he’s quick to add that there are still a host of problems which can be purely attributed to lifestyle. Issues like obesity belong to this category. “It has to do with people switching to a faster way of life. For instance, people in their 20s can now contract cardiovascular diseases. A sedentary way of life, coupled with no exercise, leads to such problems,” he states.
Frequently, he adds, this sort of lifestyle leads to the mother of all problems — obesity. “Obesity now develops at a much younger age and leads to many other problems — for instance, hypertension and diabetes, as well problems related to the heart. It can also lead to issues like joint pain,” he explains.
On their part, many youngsters are aware of these issues. Ananta, a management student, agrees that the lifestyle led by many of his peers isn’t the healthiest. Interestingly, he indicates another a problem which many youngsters suffer from: sleeping disorders. “We study for almost 12 hours everyday — from 9.20 am to 8 pm, generally.
Where do we get time to exercise?” he questions.
“Of course, some students might take up a bit of yoga to keep their stress levels down. But this isn’t always enough — we tend to fall sick often and because we don’t exercise, we don’t always get a solid night of sleep either,” he adds.
Shefali, a software engineer, feels that taking little steps can go a long way in alleviating some of these problems.
“I work long hours and don’t have the time to hit the gym regularly. However, why do we need gyms to stay healthy? My husband and I make it a point to walk a couple of kilometres every night. An hour of brisk walking can do wonders to keep you fit,” she insists.
According to Shefali, another sure-fire way of heading towards premature health problems is unhealthy eating. “Many youngsters don’t pay any attention to what they put into their bodies, which lowers their immunity. It’s simply a matter of eating the right food — enough carbs and greens, for instance — and in the right quantities. While skipping meals isn’t healthy, overeating isn’t either. Once one gets into the habit of eating right, half the battle is solved,” she sums up.