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Diabetes - Most Prevalent Lifestyle Disease In India

By Expert Author: Deepak A Ganesh

Diabetes or high blood sugar is a common health issue among many Indians today. Over the years, the number of diabetes cases has grown substantially. The fifth edition of Diabetes Atlas, published in 2011 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), shows India as second among the global countries with people suffering from diabetes.Diabetes or high blood sugar is a common health issue among many Indians today. Over the years, the number of diabetes cases has grown substantially. The fifth edition of Diabetes Atlas, published in 2011 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), shows India as second among the global countries with people suffering from diabetes.

According to estimates, 6.13 crore people in India have diabetes. It is also appalling to note that 1 in every 10 Indian adults in the age group 20-79 years is suffering from this disorder. The Diabetes Atlas shows India with the largest regional mortality, with 983 diabetes-related deaths in 2011.

Statistics on diabetes in India are always frightening. The number of diabetics in the country grew to 6.13 crore in 2011 from 1.9 crore in 1995. Given the trend, India would have an appalling 10 crore people with diabetes by 2030.

Type II diabetes: the most common in India - In India, two types of diabetes have been diagnosed: 'Type I diabetes' and 'Type II diabetes'.

Type I diabetes: Type I diabetes is most commonly seen in children and young adults below the age of 40 years. This condition arises when the body is unable to produce insulin. Though, this type of diabetes is rare in other parts of the world, India still houses significant number of children suffering from Type I diabetes. According to IDF, India topped the list of countries with high incidence of diabetes, with an estimated 1,12,000 children having diabetes in 2011. The early occurrence of the disorder increases the probability of concomitant complications; this is the major concern with this type of diabetes.

Type II diabetes: This is, indeed, common in India. It occurs because of the inability of the body cells to utilize the produced insulin. As a result glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood sugar or diabetes. Genetic and lifestyle factors are the major causes of this disorder. Most commonly found in people above 40 years.

•Prevalence is more in educated urban group: Surprisingly, in India it is the educated and affluent urban group that is highly affected by diabetes than the poor, uneducated rural people. Studies show while prevalence of diabetes in non-obese, physically active, rural Indians is only 0.7%, it peaks to 11% among the obese and sedentary urban people.

Causes of high prevalence of diabetes in India: Studies conducted on the high prevalence of diabetes in India furnish almost the same factors that lead to the disorder. They are:

•Genetic predisposition: Indians are more prone to diabetes because of a greater genetic susceptibility. This factor appears to play a major role in the occurrence of type II diabetes. Compared to the western population, a strong familial aggregation of diabetes is observed in Indians. A high prevalence is seen in first-degree relatives and vertical transmission through two or more generations. It is also observed that most Indian diabetic patients had both diabetic parents.

•Urbanisation: Over the last 50-60 years, India has seen a rapid increase in urbanisation, socio-economic development, which resulted in a dramatic change in the living patterns. Increased physical inactivity as result of technological advancement, rise in the consumption of calorie rich, high fat foods, etc. are the things which adversely affected the insulin sensitivity of the urban population.

•Obesity: Though urbanisation is one of the factors of obesity, obesity itself is highly associated with diabetes. Increased body fat percentage and weight gain would certainly increase the risk of diabetes. Abdominal obesity, in which excess body fat is concentrated at the abdomen area, is one of the major contributing factors that leads to diabetes.

•Physical inactivity: The advent of advanced technology has made life pretty easy, by wiping out work involving physical exertion. People leading a sedentary lifestyle, doing desk-jobs for example, hardly do any physical activity and hence are at high risk.

•Change in dietary habits: Urbanisation is also the cause for the dietary alterations in India. Indians are getting used to western lifestyles, albeit having traditional dietary pattern. Thus, unrefined wheat, rice, millets have given way to polished rice, increased in-take of fat, high calorie food, refined cereals, processed foods, etc. High consumption of such foods has been associated with the increased risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance.

Early identification and prevention is the only solution:

Unlike other lifestyle diseases, diabetes is preventable as well as manageable. Leading a healthy lifestyle could effectively prevent diabetes. In case of people affected with diabetes, early recognition, timely medication and change in living habits keeps diabetes in control. Moreover, identifying the disorder as early as possible saves the diabetic from getting affected by the complications thereof. Surprisingly, 25% of the rural population in the country are unaware of the term 'diabetes'.

Creating awareness among the people about the prevalence of disease and educating them about symptoms to identify the disorder can help in fighting this disorder.

Health section at Living Smartly website offers informative articles on health and wellness. It provides health tips and interesting facts on healthcare.

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