Women living in south Mumbai are more prone to diabetes compared those from the suburbs, suggests data from the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The findings showed that 11.8% of women from the island city had high blood sugar levels – above 140 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood (mg/dl) – compared to 6.4% women residing in the suburbs.
Moreover, 3.9% women living in the island city had blood sugar levels above 160 mg/dl as compared to 3.5% in the suburbs. The readings do not indicate diabetes, but only pre-diabetes stage.
A total of 608 and 673 women in the age group of 15 to 49 years were surveyed in the south Mumbai and suburbs, respectively. NHFS was conducted by the Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) between April and September 2015.
Dr Sarang Pedgaonkar, coordinator for the NFHS and assistant professor at IIPS, said, “This difference could be correlated to the lifestyle differences such as physical activity and dietary difference between women from the island city and the suburbs.”
Pedgaonkar, however, said though the initial findings show higher prevalence of elevated blood sugar levels in women from south Mumbai, more analysis is required before drawing any conclusions.
The NFHS is conducted by the central government in all districts to collect and analyse data on issues related to health and family welfare. The survey began in 1992-1993 and is done periodically. Pedgaonkar said an expert committee appointed by the government decided that a reading of 140 mg/dl is ‘high blood sugar’ and 160 mg/dl as ‘very high’. For clinical purposes, doctors consider blood sugar levels before a meal above 140 mg/dl and post-meal levels above 200 mg/dl to be diabetic.
Dr Rajiv Kovil, a diabetologist practicing in Andheri, said one explanation for the sharp difference in the incidence of high sugar levels could be that women living in the suburbs are physically more active. However, he said the economic backgrounds of the women surveyed should also be studied for a better understanding.
“A decade ago, I had some patients who moved from Chembur to Lokhandwala and we noticed they had elevated blood sugars. Lack of space in the island city is a reason why people exercise less as compared to people from the suburbs,” he said. While both Chembur and Lokhandwala are in the suburbs, Kovil said the patients, who moved to Lokhandwala, could have fewer options for outdoor exercise, causing sugar levels to go up.
Doctors said the rising trend of obesity among women is one of the most worrisome factors, leading to early onset of diabetes. Dr Shashank Joshi, city-based endocrinologist, said, “There is a twin epidemic of obesity and hypertension among women. Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyle and junk food are picking up among both men and women.”
The survey results, however, did not find significant difference between the obesity trends among women from the island city and the suburbs. While 34% of women from south Mumbai were found to be obese – with a BMI (the body mass index which compares a person’s height to weight to give an indicator of obesity) above 25 – 36% women in the suburbs were obese.