"While bad lifestyle and poor eating habits are major causes for diabetes, air pollution, low birth weight babies, protein malnutrition in the mother have also been identified as causes for the disease," said Dr Edward S. Horton, professor at Harvard Medical School and head of the section on clinical research of Joslin Diabetes.
Experts on diabetes speaking at the HT leadership summit on Friday expressed their worries on diabetes fast gaining pandemic proportions- as they quoted predictions which said by year 2025, diabetes is expected to affect 333 million people worldwide.
"In 2000, there were about 194 million people living with diabetes worldwide but in 2003 it was predicted that the figures would rise to 333 million diabetics by 2025-a hike of almost 72 per cent," said Dr Horton.
"Diabetes is a dual epidemic as it also comes with the burden of obesity," he said. Experts also said that the spread could be prevented only with changes in lifestyle. "Studies on diabetes risk reduction have shown 58 per cent efficiency with changes in lifestyle and only 31 per cent by use of metformin (medication)," said Horton.
"Both exercise and diet control are equally important if one wants to reduce diabetes and associated complications like hypertension and heart attacks," said Dr Anoop Misra, director of department of diabetes and metabolic diseases at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi. Dr Misra has been instrumental in defining new guidelines for physical activity for the Indian population. He stressed on the need for one hour of daily physical exercise as a measure to tame the disease of the pancreas.
Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan cricket captain who was diagnosed with type-I diabetes in 2003, when he was at the prime of his career also shared his experiences of living with diabetes. "I went on to take 250 one-day wickets and 200 test match wickets after being diagnosed with the disease. I was successful only because I was particular about my eating as well as exercising habits," said Akram.
"Although I was taking three insulin jabs a day, it did not prevent me from doing my regular exercises. In fact I broke the myth, that if you are a diabetic you get tired easily as I was working out a lot more than my team mates to stay fit," he said.