We have close to 236.5 million adolescents in India today. This young generation, aged between 10 and 19 years, is the future of this country. They will drive our economic growth and social development in the decades to come and take us down the road to prosperity, provided we ensure that their health and wellbeing becomes and remains a top national priority.
Adolescence is a critical stage in life during which the foundation for adulthood and future health is set. This is the time when young people are seeking autonomy and greater control over their lives. Undoubtedly, it is a unique opportunity for us to encourage and reinforce positive health-seeking behaviours in this demographic.
Many Indians are genetically predisposed to non-communicable diseases, so they pose an even bigger threat. NCDs include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Every year, approximately 5.8 million Indians die from NCDs. A large number of these deaths can be prevented altogether, if the foundation for a healthy lifestyle is laid during adolescence.