Changing Perspectives of Tribal Health in the Context of Increasing Lifestyle Diseases in India

Type Working Paper - Journal of Environmental and Social Sciences
Title Changing Perspectives of Tribal Health in the Context of Increasing Lifestyle Diseases in India
Volume 1
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
The total Scheduled Tribe population of India stands at 104,281,034 as per 2011 census and accounts for 8.6 per cent of the total population of the country. In spite of the concerted efforts by the Government of India, the tribal population groups are lagging behind Indian National population in most of the demographic and social and economic indicators. Similarly, a large number of these tribal groups also show prevailing dismal health conditions. The major focus of various studies related to health issues among tribal populations of India has been on malnutrition or under nutrition. Like all other developing countries, large scale urbanization/modernization has been taking place in India with effective changes in the lifestyles leading to appreciable increase in the prevalence of chronic metabolic conditions like cardio vascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, metabolic syndromes. The benefits of development in education, health and income generation have resulted in a significant amount of mainstreaming of Indian tribes. A number of tribal groups are capitalizing on economic opportunities that are available to them, with a desire to acquiring a better life style with modern life comforts. And thus many of the tribal populations of India are becoming susceptible to various metabolic risk factors that may be related to their dietary profile and physical activity. Therefore, it is worth investigating the changing perspectives of health among the tribes of India in the context of increasing life style disease in India. Precisely for this reason present paper highlights not only the prevalence of under nutrition and malnutrition among the Indian tribes, but, also tries to implicate the association of age, sex and Body Mass Index (BMI) with the different metabolic health risk factors using data among six tribes in Birbhum district of West Bengal and Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, India. Results of the present study indicate that young tribal males are showing increasing tendency towards growing body weight, against the traditional wisdom, which in turn has been found to be strongly associated with metabolic risk factors. Tribal females are in more danger of developing metabolic risks at lower BMI, irrespective of age, clearly indicating an increasing tendency towards a double burden of disease among the Indian tribal populations. Therefore, this changing pattern of health among Indian tribes needs to be addressed immediately before the situation becomes too alarming.

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