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This is serious

It is no surprise that India is home to the largest number of diabetics in the world ? 30 million of the 230 million diabetics worldwide.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 00:46 IST

It is alarming, but no surprise, that India is home to the largest number of diabetics in the world — 30 million of the 230 million diabetics worldwide. Twelve per cent Indians between 30 and 50 years of age are diabetic, reported a study in The Lancet, which also concluded that by 2025, 20 million Indians will suffer from the lifestyle disease that has a strong multiplier effect on other life-threatening diseases and conditions. The diabetic, whose sugar level is uncontrolled, is vulnerable to heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations of legs. These are grave conditions, yet even those aware of the disease do not take it as seriously as they should. It is this worsening situation that has prompted the medical world to acknowledge the ‘pre-diabetes’ stage itself as a risky condition. Diabetes complicates all body functions, yet, it is also a condition that can be kept under check with a three-pronged approach of diet, exercise and medication.

The rapid rate of onset of diabetes in India has been causing considerable alarm for several years now. Doctors and health practitioners have been yelling ‘lifestyle change’ at the top of their lungs — but apparently to little avail. There seems to be a long way to go before the awareness and education drives have a measurable impact. About 33 lakh Delhi residents have been diagnosed to be in the pre-diabetes stage, with conversion into full-blown diabetes as high as 40 per cent. This is serious. Further, a survey of 3,500 children in the age-group of 10 to 16, carried out by the Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, reported that 81 per cent ate fast food at least once a week, 12 per cent were overweight and 6 per cent were obese — ideal conditions for diabetes.

Lack of exercise, poor nutrition and sedentary work schedules are parameters that can be completely overhauled. The world has more than its fair share of battles against viruses, malnutrition and water-borne diseases, which together throw up new and costly challenges. Against all this, curbing diabetes is a matter that lies in the hands of every individual citizen. As health costs to the nation mount, educated Indians must take responsibility for their own health. It is the least they owe to the nation.