kfit: Fighting the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension – Part 1


This is the first post in a four-part series on the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension. This one explains the diseases and the risks associated with it. The subsequent posts will deal with information on prevention, details on diet, exercise and stress management techniques. 

Sarabjit, is 35, and determined to make it to the top in the bank he works at. He works really hard, travels quite a bit and so doesn’t really have time to exercise and neither is he able to stick to a very healthy diet. He doesn’t exercise much given his busy lifestyle but he is anything but obese – in fact Sarabjit has a lean body frame.

It also happens that Sarabjit has type-2 diabetes and also has been diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

And he isn’t an exception in corporate India. There is a silent epidemic sweeping the population. A stressful work life, lack of attention to one’s diet, limited or non-existent exercise routines are all taking a toll. In fact a recent study called SITE (Screening India’s Twin Epidemic) highlighted a grim reality – three out of five Indians (1) have either diabetes or hypertension or both!

The link between Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

It is not really known why there is such a significant correlation between the two, but it is assumed that obesity, a bad diet and inactivity are leading to a rise in both cases.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer between most people are not aware that they have a problem – till its too late!

blood-pressure-control-tool_318-61843Demystifying the D/S:

To better appreciate how high blood pressure comes about, let me take a quick detour and explain what blood pressure is and what those two terms Diastolic and Systolic really mean.

Blood pressure is a measure of the force (in mmHg) of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. In hypertension, the blood is pumped with a greater force making the heart work harder. Over time, a consistently higher blood pressure tires the heart muscles and can enlarge it. This raises the risk of diabetic complications which affect almost every organ of the body especially the heart, kidneys, eyes and the neuromuscular system.

 A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm is considered normal in healthy people. What exactly is this? The above number (140) known as the systolic pressure is the pressure with which the blood is pushed through the heart to the body. The below number (90) or the diastolic pressure is the pressure when the heart relaxes and refills the blood.

diabetes-icon-7494 Understanding that sweet creepy disease:

 Diabetes has been known since the first century B.C.E., when a Greek physician, Aretus the Cappadocian, named it diabainein, meaning “a siphon,” referring to the excessive urination associated with the disease. The word diabetes was first recorded in 1425, and in 1675, the Greek mellitus, “like honey,” was added, to reflect the sweet smell and taste of the patient’s urine. An unrelated and rare disorder, diabetes insipidus, is usually caused by a hormone deficiency. (2)

Simply put Diabetes means uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Though there are different forms of diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes mellitus is the most common type. The main contributors to high blood sugars are insulin resistance and/or less production of insulin.

molecule_318-56621So what exactly is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to control the blood sugar levels. In insulin resistance, the body’s cells are unable to use the insulin efficiently. Due to which more and more insulin is required to metabolize the glucose that comes through our food. For a period, the pancreas is able to meet the increased insulin demands. This helps keep the blood sugar levels within normal range; about 70-100 mg/dl on fasting and lower than 140 mg/dl post meals.

Eventually the over burdened pancreas gives up resulting in little or no insulin production and the blood sugar levels begin to rise resulting in Diabetes.

5364-200Risk factors for hypertension and diabetes (this could be you!):

Age is not necessarily an insurance against hypertension or diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle can aggravate matters and things can quickly spiral out of control. The combination of hypertension and type-2 diabetes is more dangerous and significantly increase the risk of a stroke. It also increases the chances kidney failure and blindness (retinopathy)

Here is a quick list for you to check if you display any of the early indicators for these deadly diseases:

  • Abnormal belly fat or a waist circumference of more than 90 cms.
  • Rise in high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Sugar cravings, especially after meals
  • Extreme tiredness, especially after meals
  • Visual problems
  • Frozen shoulders
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Increase in thirst and appetite
  • Stress
  • High-fat, high-sodium diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Advanced age
  • Smoking
  • Too little potassium or vitamin D
  • Too much alcohol


12177-200Understand your blood pressure reading:

Getting a blood pressure reading takes just 30 seconds. If you have the kfit Health ATM installed in your office – head over there right now and get it done! Once you get your report, see which of these categories your reading falls into.

  • Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic.
  • Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic.
  • Hypertensive crisis; a medical emergency, is when systolic is above 180 or 110 above diastolic.


The consequences of delaying a diagnosis:

 Due to the surreptitious nature of the disease and its complications, it goes undetected in most people. There is absolutely no clear sign and symptoms till the disease emerge out in its full form where it’s too late to reverse them.

 There is an irrational fear of getting oneself checked, especially among younger individuals; which is becoming a major cause of delayed diagnosis. Lack of awareness about hypertension and its complications, myths surrounding the disease management makes the treatment and management difficult.

A timely intervention with regards to the treatment and apt lifestyle changes for both the conditions can actually reverse the condition.

In the next post I will talk in detail about Diagnosis, risk factors of delaying treatments, ways to prevent these diseases.


  • Prevalence of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Diabetes and Hypertension in India – Results from the Screening India’s Twin Epidemic (SITE) Study, http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/dia.2011.024
  • Vocabulary, definition of diabetes. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/diabetes
  • Image credit: Freeimages.com, freeicons and the noun project.



The one BIG idea for Employee Engagement in 2016!

Looking for one transformational idea for Employee Engagement in 2016? kfit: the Employee Health and Wellness platform from Kwench might be just what you are looking for!

I have always dreaded the last week of December. Christmas and New Year get-together and cake eating binges aside, there is always the dreaded mental review of another year gone by.

Ever since I landed up on the wrong side of 30, “Loose Weight” and “Exercise Regularly” have been on top or near top of my New Year Resolutions list and are always the items with a red cross against them in my year-end review. And somewhere along the year I would have inevitably invested in exercise gear that cost way more than I could afford, gym memberships that cost even more than the above mentioned exercise gear, and last year even a high-end water-proof watch – you know, for when I do the 25 laps in the pool. Several consecutive years of this pattern, and tens of thousands of Rupees later – I was fed up.

So I did what was seemed most obvious thing to do – I headed to the café and discussed my problem with others! (With a large latte and a chocolate donut on the side). Now what is interesting is that the story seemed to be pretty common across people I talked to. With all the stresses of just barely balancing daily work and family life, exercise and diet more often than not takes a back seat. Even drinking adequate amounts of water can be a challenge and the sugar in all the cups of coffee reflects pretty quickly on the waistline – if not worse! My colleagues at Kwench pretty much confirmed the challenges and so did a lot of our friends, family and even clients to whom we posed the question.

There is no doubt about it. The more we asked around the more it seemed that India Inc. has a serious health problem. We dug around for some data and this is what we found.





Well that’s just one part of the problem. You see from an organizational perspective, there is a lot at stake when the wellbeing of its workforce is not quite up to the mark. Loss of productivity due to more sick days, absenteeism and worse presenteeism.

If there is so much at stake for both the employee and the employer, why don’t Workplace Wellness programs work? Research on enterprise wellness programs by Guidespark reveals the top reasons why these programs don’t achieve the required results. While ~70% of employees feel that wellness is important, less than 10% actually take full advantage of such programs. Employees don’t participate or the end results are not as expected because they are too busy with work, the programs don’t suit their lifestyle or that they are not fully aware of what is on offer. Almost half of them felt that their biggest wellness challenge was insufficient activity followed by stress and poor nutrition.

Clearly any wellness initiative that hopes to succeed in the workplace must have a solution to all if not most of these issues.

One of the really cool things of working at Kwench is that problems are not left unattended for too long. Anything that touches on Employee Engagement obviously piques our interest. And if we think we can use technology to fix that problem them it excites us to no end.

We took the problem, pondered over it, did our homework, drew the sketches, put the engineers and designers into one big room to do their magic and created kfit – a comprehensive employee health and wellness platform that leverages the magic of social, gamification and mobility to help companies raise the health quotient of their workforce. kfit uses micro interventions coupled with technology to bring about positive and long lasting behavioral change.

Excited? We sure hope so, because we are very excited about the possibilities this platform holds in transforming the health and wellness landscape of Corporate India.

If you are looking for one BIG idea for your Employee Engagement program for 2016, then look no further.

If you want us to get in touch and explain more about how kfit can help transform your company’s wellness, please send us an enquiry.

If you want to know more, here is a quick guide to why this is the one BIG Idea, that you can download and it is titled (Surprise, Surprise): The One BIG Idea for Employee Engagement in 2016!



Oh and I am glad to say this year I won’t be putting a cross against “Loose Weight” and “Exercise Regularly” on my resolution list from Jan ’15.

2016 promises to be a whole new year – in more ways than one! Join us in changing the world – one step at a time!

PS: Reminder – Get in touch with us and we will be glad to talk about Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016!