The clock ticks faster.

The signs of physical and functional decline may take a few years to show
APThe signs of physical and functional decline may take a few years to show
Early puberty, hypertension and diabetes in children, early menopause… The alarming issue of premature ageing points inescapably to our way of living, finds out Sudha Umashanker

Girls as young as seven or eight coming of age, young children being diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes, women with plummeting ovarian reserves in their late 20s or early 30s — the ageing clock seems to be ticking differently these days.

Kousalya Nathan, lifestyle and age management consultant, Nova Specialty Surgery, Chennai, points out, “More than ageing and its associated degenerative disorders, the alarming problem is premature ageing, which implies significant functional decline in various organs due to unmanaged lifestyle disorders.”

As the International Journal of Diabetes Care (1999) states, “Although Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus has historically been characterized as an adult onset of diabetes, it has been shown to be on the rise in young people in recent years, comprising some alarming 30 per cent of new cases of diabetes in the second decade of life. The mean age at diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in young people is 12-14 years.” (Incidentally, Indian ethnicity is at higher risk.)

Listing out the factors suggestive of the prevalence of premature ageing, Dr. Nathan notes, “Early puberty is a pointer. We also live in an environment that favours unhealthy weight gain in children and adolescents. This has reached epidemic proportions in India, with consequences ranging from inability to play or climb stairs, to hypertension, dyslipidemia, back pain and psychosocial problems. Even greying and loss of skin tone, which are signs of middle age, are seen in 10- to 12-year-olds. In the worst-case scenario, deaths due to non-communicable diseases in those in their 30s and 40s are also happening.”

Nandita Palshetkar, infertility specialist, Lilavati Hospitals Mumbai and Fortis Bloom IVF Centres, says, “Nowadays, more and more girls are attaining early puberty. Earlier, puberty which was seen at age 12 is now seen at the age of seven to eight years, in approximately 15 per cent of the girls. There are several reasons for this — such as unhealthy weight gain, stress, estrogens-like hormones such as bisphenol A found in hard plastics, certain metals that act as metalloestrogens, (eg. tin, cadmium, mercury, lead and aluminium, copper), situations in which the father is absent or the child is living with the step-father, Vitamin D deficiency, early exposure to sex-related messages in the media etc. Higher body mass index is associated most often with lifestyle changes that have occurred in the last couple of decades in our society. Early puberty, in turn, is associated with repercussions such as increased risk of heart problem, osteoporosis and early menopause.”

Rapid depletion of ovarian reserves, and therefore early ovarian ageing in young women, is yet another cause of concern. While it could be due to polycystic ovaries, in several cases, the cause is unknown. “Measures must be taken to reduce contamination by Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) if we want to take steps to decrease reproductive disorders in women of the next generation,” stresses Dr. Palshetkar. EDCs that affect the functioning of the thyroid and ovary are found in pesticides, dioxins (produced when plastic is burnt, certain industrial processes and from improper incineration of waste), bisphenols (found in hard plastics, some baby bottles, water bottles and the insides of some food and beverage cans.) Corroborating the incidence of diabetes in overweight young children, Vijay Viswanathan, head and chief diabetologist, M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, Chennai, says that a recent survey in Chennai done by his institution showed that “many children who were overweight had raised blood pressure levels. These children showed aspects of insulin resistance, which makes them prone to hypertension and also diabetes.”

Asked if this can be considered a form of ageing, Dr. Viswanathan affirms, “Yes, this is a type of ageing, since the blood vessels develop stiffness and lose their elasticity even by the age of 10 or 15 in children who are insulin-resistant. These early blood vessel changes make these children prone to developing hypertension at an early stage, and may also lead to heart blocks by the time they get into their 20s or 30s.”

What are the signs that should alert us before visible changes of ageing happen?

Weight gain, skin discoloration in underarms, inner thighs, nape of the neck, frequent infections, tiredness, irregular periods in girls, rough skin, overeating and eating disorders, stress and sleeping difficulties in children,” should put us on the alert, says Dr. Nathan.

While there are molecular-level changes of ageing in children, to see the physical and functional decline, it might take a few years. “It is a complex and multi-factorial process. Lifestyle accelerates loss of genetic materials, causing premature ageing,” Dr. Nathan concludes.

Preventive steps

Lifestyle modification is top priority.

– Opt for an anti-ageing diet — 60 per cent complex carbohydrates (legumes, cereals and vegetables), 20 per cent protein (white meat, dal, paneer, tofu, soy protein), 20 per cent fats (nuts, olives, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds)

– Undertake regular physical activity

– Avoid exposure to estrogens-like compounds and environmental toxins

– Consume organically-grown vegetables

– Teach children to bust emotional stress by taking up creative pursuits


9 Practical Steps to Prepare for Tough Negotiations.

Why should I give you what you want?

Why shouldn’t you do what I say?

Why won’t you listen to what I need?

No matter what career you work in or business you run, at some point you will be involved in negotiations. Some negotiations are simple, others not so much!

To shine and succeed in negotiations, it all comes down to three words: PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!

When you actually get in the room or on the phone and start the negotiations, everything flows based on how well you’ve preparedbeforehand. Whether it’s negotiating a pay rise in your job, negotiating a deal or contract with a supplier or client, or negotiating a solution to a workplace meltdown, you need to prep before you take the floor!

Aaron and I have both held corporate career positions requiring regular negotiations with internal and external stakeholders. It’s something we’re both very familiar and confident with. So let us share with you our top 9 practical steps to support you in preparing for tough negotiations…

1. Be clear on what you want

To get what you want out of a negotiation, you need to be crystal clear on exactly what outcome you are seeking to achieve.

Write it down and break it into components.

  • What is the ultimate outcome?
  • What components make up that overall outcome?
  • What is the minimum result you’re willing to accept?

When doing this exercise, really challenge yourself to be clear on what outcomes are most important, what are non-negotiable must haves, and what results really aren’t ‘die in the ditch’ deal breakers.

People at work

2. Understand where the other party is coming from

Any negotiation requires at least two parties. Your job is to know what both parties want, in order to prepare yourself to navigate and direct the negotiations.

You’ve just done the exercise to get clear on what you want. Now you need to consider where the other party is coming from. What do they want? If you’re not sure, put yourself in their shoes and consider what their ideal outcome is likely to be?

Spend a little time thinking about what factors are most important to them.

3. Articulate the gap

A negotiation only exists because there’s a gap between two parties. If you were both aligned wanting the same outcome, there would be no negotiation, there would simply be agreement.

On the basis that what you both want differs, your job now is to articulate the gap between what you want and what they want. Understand how far apart you are. What are the major differences of opinion? What are the crucial factors/resources at stake?

Write it down.nego2

4. Find your common ground

Now that you know what the gap is, what keeps you apart, turn your attention to what your common ground is.

In order to bridge the gap, you need to find that common ground to create connection, relationship and a way to close the gap.

  • What do you both have in common?
  • What do you both agree upon?
  • What can you leverage as a basis for agreement?
  • What points in the negotiation can you easily come to a conclusion on to gain positive win win ground early on.

5. Be clear on what you’re willing to give away

The art of negotiation is being willing to give as well as take.

Both parties will have something to give that the other party needs and wants. Often times there are things you can give away in the negotiation that are of high value to the other side, but of little to no consequence to you. It’s like when you ask for a discount when buying a laptop or appliance, and the sales person offers you an extended warranty instead. That extended warranty is meant to appear as great value to you, with it being of little to no cost to them. They are using the art of giving as a way of appeasing you in the negotiations, in order to get away from providing a discount (what you want and what they’re not willing to give).

What are you willing to give away?120309-A-AO884-167

6. Be confident in your position

If you prepare properly before a negotiation, you will have greater confidence in yourself and in your position. Remind yourself that you may not get the full result you’re aiming for in the first instance, and that that’s no reason to have your confidence rocked.

Be prepared to be patient, to value what you have to offer, and to hold your ground.

7. Empathy for the other party

Negotiations do not go well when both parties come in with a war mind-setYou’re going into negotiations, not battle. Anyone who walks their career or business path with a genuine ‘win win’ mind-set, will triumph personally and professionally over time.

A “I’m going to win and you’re going to lose” approach is negative, cocky and is a choice you make which comes across very clearly in your body language, tone of voice and presentation.

Always enter any negotiation with a solutions mind-set, looking for the best outcome for both parties. This doesn’t prevent you from being confident, assertive, crystal clear and authoritative in directing the process and outcomes.

8. Have a plan

Plot out how you would ideally like the negotiations to go, so that you can direct it that way if possible.

Be clear on what your starting point is, that is your opening message, your opening point for discussion and what is most important to convey to the other party early on in the meeting.

Be aware of how long you are willing to wait if the negotiations hit a stalemate, before you’re willing to give something away, or before you will change approach.

9. Reminders to take in with you

Go into the negotiations remembering that the following things make a difference to how you feel during the negotiations and to your outcomes:

  • Be an active listener, because you pick up valuable information by listening properly.
  • If nervous during a negotiation, change your body posture – if on the phone, stand up. If sitting down, hold yourself upright and hold your head high.


Prepare for your negotiations and remember that practise makes perfect. It takes a little time and practise to perfect the art of negotiation and each opportunity you have to negotiate allows you to learn and expand your capabilities.