KARACHI: The more refined sugars you eat, the greater your risk is of obesity and in turn cardiovascular diseases that have emerged as a serious health concern among the younger population in Pakistan, said experts at a press conference held at a local hotel on Sunday.

The presser was organised by the Pakistan Cardiovascular Forum in collaboration with a pharmaceutical company.

The experts pointed out that the use of refined sugars, especially in soft drinks, in Pakistan had become a major risk factor of heart diseases as the younger population consumed them in excessive amounts, had sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits.

“While people in the developed world have almost stopped using refined sugars, they are still being used on a large-scale in our food products,” said Prof Mansoor Ahmed, while emphasising the need for an active lifestyle and good eating habits.

Explaining why people should focus on their heart health, Prof Mohammad Ishaq shared that the burden of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular ailments had shifted from the West to the developing countries, particularly South Asian countries, with lax regulatory framework, high poverty levels and poor public awareness of health and hygiene.

“The West has reduced disease burden with the help of strict regulatory checks and increased public awareness. However, we are facing an epidemic-like situation and there is a need to focus on prevention today more than ever.

“That’s because we are seeing that people in their productive years in large numbers fall victim to heart diseases unlike the western countries,” he said, adding that consumption of gutka and tobacco also increased heart disease risk.

In our case, he said, the genetic predisposition also made people vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases. The genetic factors included diabetes and central obesity.

The experts shared statistics on heart diseases according to which every third death in the world was due to cardiovascular diseases, amounting to 20 million deaths each year.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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