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India - the 'diabetes capital'

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 12:35 IST

With more than 40 million diabetes patients, India is home to over 20 percent of the total cases worldwide and experts believe that given the changing lifestyle, the disease is going to take an endemic status soon.

Experts said diabetes that can lead to several complications like kidney failure, foot amputation, heart problem, skin related problems is growing at over 50 percent in India. They also said that in India the mortality rate is over five percent of the total number of cases reported every year.

"With such a huge population of diabetic patients, the country is known as the diabetes capital of the world. It has been noticed that with every diagnosed case of diabetes there is at least one undiagnosed case of glucose intolerance. So the actual population at risk would be much greater than our current estimate," said Manoj Chadha, a senior consultant at PD Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai, said on the occasion of World Diabetes Day on Tuesday.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 180 million people worldwide have diabetes and nearly 1.1 million people succumbed to the ailment in 2005. Almost 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, the UN body emphasises.

"The increasing number of children suffering from diabetes is alarming and more seriously the people getting affected by the diseases is slowly becoming younger. In short the situation is grave," said Anoop Misra, head of the department of diabetes, Fortis Healthcare.

He said growing popularity of junk food, intake of trans-fats, high calorie but low protein diet, sedentary lifestyle and racial predisposition were the main reasons for the spread of the disease.

"Genetically Indians are predisposed to such ailments. And when they change their food habit then the chance of being affected by diabetes and heart problem is immense.

"As per an estimate, a diabetes patient spends nearly Rs 15,000 on treatment per year. And if the problem leads to other health related problem then the expenditure rises by four-fold. More so the loss of working hours also leads to revenue loss," Misra said.

The doctor, who was a former professor of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said that people must devote an hour to do physical activity every day.

Speaking about the type of diabetes, Misra said While Type-1 diabetes is prevalent among children; the type-2 is rampant among adults. In case of Type-1, patients show symptoms like excessive excretion of urine, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.

The Type-2 diabetes results from the body's ineffective use of insulin and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

Experts said that in India access to proper health care is not satisfactory as well with less than 20 percent of patients receiving care from doctors.

"What is more worrisome is people in rural India are not even aware of the disease and thus do not avail medical facilities," Misra said.

About the anti-diabetes campaign, specialists say it calls for not just effective medication but awareness and total lifestyle changes.

"Both the government and the private sector needs to work together for creating awareness among people. The situation is tough and all agencies need to take young generation - schools and college students, teachers and parents together for a better result," said K Srinath Reddy, head cardiology, AIIMS.

"People in general need to change their lifestyle and take as less junk foods as well. Exercise should be a part of the daily routine," he said.

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