Background: Non-communicable diseases have modifiable risk factors, which are easy to measure and can help in planning effective interventions. We established a community-based sentinel surveillance to estimate the prevalence and level of common risk factors for major non-communicable diseases as part of a joint Indian Council of Medical Research/WHO initiative.
Methods: This survey was done from February 2003 to June 2004 and included 1260 men and 1 304 women 15-64 years of age living in urban slum areas of Ballabgarh block, Faridabad district, Haryana. A list of all slums in Ballabgarh block was obtained from the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad. Slums were selected by stratified cluster sampling. All households in the selected slums were visited and men and women interviewed in alternate households. The study instrument was based on the STEPS approach of WHO. It included questions related to tobacco use, alcohol intake, diet, physical activity, and history of treatment for hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Height, weight, waist circumference and blood pressure were measured. To estimate prevalence at the population level, age adjustment was done using the urban Faridabad population structure from the 2001 Census of India.
Results: The age-adjusted prevalence of smoking among men was 36.5% compared with 7% in women. Bidi was the predominant form of smoked tobacco used. The use of smokeless tobacco was reported by 10.2% of men and 2.9% of women. While 26% of men reported consuming alcohol in the past 1 year, none of the women did. The mean number of servings per day of fruits and vegetables was 2.7 for men compared with 2.2 for women. Overall, only 7.9% and 5.4% of men and women, respectively took > or = 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Women were more likely to be physically inactive compared with men (14.8% v. 55%); 67% of men and 22.8% of women reported mean physical activity > 150 minutes per week. The mean body mass index (BMI) was lower in men than in women (20.9 v. 21.9 kg/m2). The prevalence of overweight (BMI > or = 25 kg/m2)) was 16% among men and 21.9% among women. The prevalence of hypertension (blood pressure > or = 1 40/> or = 90 mmHg or on an antihypertensive drug) was 17.2% in men and 15.8% in women.
Conclusion: The high prevalence of risk factors for noncommunicable diseases across all age groups in this urban slum community indicates the likelihood of a high future burden of illness. Immediate action for prevention and control is required to prevent the situation from worsening.