55% of techies have lifestyle diseases: Survey

Nearly 55 per cent of young workforce engaged in India’s IT and ITES sector are stricken with lifestyle disorders due to unhealthy eating habits, hectic work schedules, tight deadlines, irregular and associated stress, according to a survey by industry association ASSOCHAM.

The survey was carried out at Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Noida and Pune between August and October last year to ascertain the extent of junk food addiction among BPO techies in Indian economy’s sunshine industry. About 2,000 young men and 1000 women were interviewed by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

Over half of respondents said that due to 24×7 working environment and irregular food timings they directly place orders to fast food outlets, street food vendors and roadside eateries operating outside their offices serving ready to eat high calorie processed food items like noodles, burgers, pizza, bhelpuri, chaat, potato chips, wafers, vada pao, sev puri, pani puri and fried stuff like samosas, pakoras, along with carbonated, aerated drinks, coffee and masala tea.

“Frequent snack breaks during office hours together with rampant consumption of greasy, spicy food is leading to health problems like diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety and cardiovascular diseases. Besides, nutritional value of food remains last on the mind of employees when hunger strikes and they are left craving for junk stuff that satiates their hunger,” reveals the study.

“Excessive intake of junk food, lack of physical exercise, long working hours, lack of sleep together with unbound mental fatigue is telling on the health of BPO and IT professionals in the city, most of who gorge on food served outside and this might have detrimental consequences on employees’ health in the long run,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the survey.

Nearly 1,600 respondents said that they have relocated to these cities for professional reasons and live independently along with their colleagues/peers at a rented accommodation due to which they tend to eat more of junk food stuff sold at office cafeteria and across local markets near their offices.

About 35 per cent of the total respondents who eat junk food said that they visit doctors at least twice a month with complaints of stomach ache, bloating, gas afflicts, acidity and burning sensation, improper stool passage, constipation and diarrohea.

Many of these said that no fixed meal hours and non-stop telephonic sessions were causing gastric problems together with fatigue and headaches.

Nearly 15 per cent of respondents said that work related stress has also lead them to compulsive habits like alcohol abuse, substance abuse, smoking and chewing tobacco thereby causing an unfavourable effect on digestion process.

Many of these said that hectic lifestyles, stress, excessive caffeine and smoking is leading to cardiovascular problems appearing early as their work involves heavy calling which keeps them sticked to their work stations for seven to eight hours with a single break of a few minutes.

“With hypertension and stress levels increasing manifold due to odd working hours and unhealthy eating habits is leading to mounting numbers of young people suffering from heart problems,” said Mr Rawat.

Almost 45 per cent of respondents across these cities said that they do not exercise at all. Whereas 30 per cent said that they exercise at least 4 days a week, While remaining 25 per cent said they follow a strict diet and exercise regime.

“There is a grave need for companies to be vigilant about the issues concerning employees’ health as they are the ones responsible for an organisation’s sound financial health,” said Mr Rawat.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) interacted with about 3,000 employees in the age group of 22 to 30 year representing various business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, IT/ITES in the domains of pharma, BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance), auto, hospitality, FMCG, manufacturing, energy and infrastructure sectors.