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India, world diabetes capital

india Updated: Sep 03, 2007 02:02 IST
Saikat Neogi
Saikat Neogi
Hindustan Times

With India having the highest number of diabetic patients in the world, the sugar disease is posing an enormous health problem in the country. Calling India the diabetes capital of the world, the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries says that there is alarming rise in prevalence of diabetes, which has gone beyond epidemic form to a pandemic one.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that the number of diabetic patients in India more than doubled from 19 million in 1995 to 40.9 million in 2007. It is projected to increase to 69.9 million by 2025. Currently, up to 11 per cent of India’s urban population and 3 per cent of rural population above the age of 15 have diabetes. Diabetes affects all people in the society, not just those who live with it. The World Health Organization estimates that mortality from diabetes and heart disease cost India about $210 billion every year and is expected to increase to $335 billion in the next ten years. These estimates are based on lost productivity, resulting primarily from premature death.

Various studies have shown that the high incidence of diabetes in India is mainly because of sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress and consumption of diets rich in fat, sugar and calories.

The most prevalent is the Type 2 diabetes, which constitutes 95 per cent of the diabetic population in the country. In this, patients are non-insulin dependent and they can control the glucose in their blood by eating measured diet, taking regular exercise and oral medication. Worldwide, millions of people have Type 2 diabetes without even knowing it and if not diagnosed and treated, it can develop serious complications.

Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent), however, is not preventable. In India, the Chennai-based Diabetes Research Centre says that over 50 per cent cases of diabetes in rural India and about 30 per cent in urban areas go undiagnosed. Globally, diabetes affects 246 million people, which is about 6 per cent of the total adult population. It is the fourth leading cause of death by disease and every 10 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes in the world. Each year, over three million deaths worldwide are tied directly to diabetes and even greater number die from cardiovascular disease. Modification in lifestyle and proper medication can delay and prevent diabetes in high-risk groups. Eating whole grain carbohydrates and moderate exercise and avoiding excessive weight gain could eliminate over eighty per cent of Type-2 diabetes.