Smoking, Sitting, Sugar and Salt – the 4Ss that are Harmful to Us.

India is the diabetes capital of the world. By 2020 close to 70 million people and 80 million people by 2030 will be suffering from diabetes. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 8 million people will die by 2030 due to diseases related to tobacco consumption. According todata provided by WHO, there is an estimated 1.1 billion adult people suffering from high blood pressure. Did you know that long, uninterrupted hours of sitting, called the “sitting disease” is actually harmful and can result in obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and other lifestyle diseases? In fact, women who spent over 6 hours a day sitting were 94% more likely to die than men.Shocking? Yes, that’s the 5th S that we should be adding to the list of already dangerous Sugar, Salt, Smoking and Sitting.

Beware the 4 Ss – sugar, salt, smoking and sitting


For long, studies have shown the direct co-relation between the consumption of processed sugar and several diseases, the most common being diabetes and obesity. Natural sugars occurring in fruits or carbohydrates are not bad. They are in fact necessary, as they provide energy to the body. However, our lives today are busy and we have become dependent on processed and ready-to-eat foods, that are convenient, but cause great harm to our health in the long run. Much packages foods comprise of refined and processed sugars that are found to be the primary cause of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.


Imagine eating food without ‘salt to taste’! Yes, salt is extremely important for our bodies and not just because it lends taste to the food we eat and makes it ‘yummy’. Salt or sodium chloride helps in the absorption of nutrients from the food we consume. The sodium component of salt in our bodies also determines the amount of water present within our bodies, outside of our cells, which in turn is crucial in keeping our blood pressure under control. Too much of salt in our curries, salads and other foods, including in all the processed foods that we purchase, can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension and heart disease.


We are all aware of the deleterious effects of smoking on our health. Tobacco consumption, nicotine and the tar that lace cigarettes are found to cause cancer of the throat, lungs and mouth among others. It is also known to be the cause of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, besides increasing the risk of tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even erectile dysfunction. There are several myths related to smoking where many believe that smoking “light cigarettes” “ultra mild” cigarettes, “social and occasional smoking” or “once in a way” is not dangerous and cannot cause you harm. Experts, oncologists and researchers raise red flags and state unequivocally that smoking is dangerous to health. Period.


Our lifestyles today while busy and hectic, have advanced to include technology, which has automated a whole bunch of tasks, from turning on lights and air conditioners to opening doors and gates. It has also given rise to, what doctors and experts call the “sitting disease”. People in urban environments all over the world seem to be spending at least 7.5 hrs in a day sitting; sitting at work desks, in front of the TV, in front of the computer, while commuting, and so on. Experts believe that too much sitting can lead to obesity, heart disease and other lifestyle diseases.

Say ‘no’ to the 4Ss for health

Need to satisfy your craving for a ‘sugar rush’? Does adding less salt in your food make it unpalatable? Does smoking and it doesn’t matter how many cigarettes a day, make you feel more focused? And you don’t think that you’re sitting too much? Wrong! All you need to do is to say “no”! Here are a few simple tips to stay healthy:

  • Include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet and avoid processed, ‘junk’ food and refined sugars
  • Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day – there are e-cigarettes and nicotine gums that can help you give it up completely. Or just think about how many man years you’re reducing with every cigarette you smoke
  • Be very mindful of the salt intake in your food. Avoid too much of salt and processed foods.
  • Move. Take a break after every 30 minutes of sitting at your desk or in front of your desktop or TV. Exercise daily even if it’s for 30-45 minutes. Get a standing desk and try working on your laptop standing.

And finally, protect your health by getting regular health check ups. Remember the old adage, ‘health is wealth’. Take an appointment today and get experts to guide you on how to keep healthy.