HEALTH WATCH: Salt spoils tea belt heart – negating the benefits of tea ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SMITA BHATTACHARYYA
Jorhat, Oct. 22: Poor diet, tobacco usage and high salt intake — usually mixed in tea instead of sugar — have resulted in a significant rise in strokes and cardio-vascular diseases among the tea garden population in Dibrugarh district.
A study conducted by Tullika Goswami Mahanta, associate professor of community medicine, Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, said the tea community people in the district, on an average, take four times more than the prescribed level of salt. Nearly 75 per cent of them, irrespective of gender, use tobacco in some form or the other, and hypertension prevails among 33 per cent of the population.
She said the research was conducted after she found a large number of patients belonging to the tea community taking admission to the Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh, with hypertension and heart disease.
“The World Health Organisation recommends that the daily salt intake of a person should be 5gm. But it was found that among the tea community, 20gm of salt was being consumed per person. The high salt consumption is also because of the fact that the workers usually drink two to three mugs of tea into which salt is added before setting off for work. Their breakfast also mostly comprises rice to which salt and pickles have been mixed,” the doctor said.
“Likewise, 75 per cent of the sample population surveyed took tobacco mostly in the leaf form (khaini) and through other means like paan masala, besides cigarette and bidis,” she said.
She said 33 per cent of the sample tea community population surveyed suffered from hypertension, while the figure was 27 per cent among the rural population — both of which were high. In other states, the rural hypertension figures were between two and eight per cent only.
The physician said significantly the entire population was non-obese. “There has been an overall rise in heart diseases in the country but this has been linked to the rise in obesity levels. Among the population studied here, it was found that obesity was not the risk factor but poor dietary knowledge with almost no intake of fruits and vegetables, increased use of tobacco and salt as well as locally prepared alcohol which resulted in quarrels and indirectly increased stress,” she said.
Goswami Mahanta is the only one invited from India to present her research paper on Prevalence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Tea Garden and General Population in Dibrugarh at the Global Health Initiative steering committee meeting in Washington to be held from October 27 to 29.