In 26 Years, Cases of Diabetes Increase by 150% in India: Lancet

The number of persons with diabetes in India has increased from 26 million in 1990 to 65 million in 2016, reveals a new study published in The Lancet. That’s right. There has been a 150 percent increase. India is facing a serious diabetes crisis.

The death rate due to the disease increased by 131 percent.

Research also reveals that diabetes is spreading much more rapidly in less developed states. Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are among the states in which cases of diabetes have increased the most from 1990 to 2016. The finding is interesting since diabetes has always been linked to lifestyle and quality of food we eat.

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However, prevalence of the disease is higher in Southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and Delhi.

Presenting the paper at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Delhi, Dr Vishwanathan Mohan, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation said:

"The alarming growth of this epidemic is going to continue until we take preventive steps. And diabetes can be easily prevented."

This study didn’t focus on the urban-rural or the rich-poor divide separately. But a 2017 study funded by ICMR found that it’s becoming a killer disease for India’s urban poor.

It said that the diabetes epidemic is likely to disproportionately affect the poorer sections of the society, a transition that has already been noted in high-income countries. This is worrying because it suggests that it is spreading to those individuals who can least afford to pay for its management.

Also Read: 15 Simple Truths About Diabetes

What’s Causing This?

Dr Mohan said that obesity is markedly increasing and that’s the major cause behind diabetes, which is considered a cardiovascular disease.

Being overweight, unhealthy diet, low physical activity, tobacco use as well as external factors like air pollution are to blame.

Also Read: 3.2 Million Diabetes Cases in 2016 Linked to Air Pollution: Lancet

For us, these factors come in as we increase consumption of packaged foods, don’t include fruits and vegetables in meals, and lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Pollution is an endocrine disruptor. In simple words, it affects cells in our bodies in a way that it leads to diabetes along with other cardiovascular diseases.

How to Prevent Diabetes?

Dr Mohan says it’s as easy as following these steps.

  • Cut down carbs
  • Do more physical activity. (Preferably, walk for 30 mins everyday.)
  • Have more green veggies and follow a healthy diet

These measures should start not when you already have diabetes as adults but right from when you’re a child. “Build more playground in schools, inculcate a habit of healthy eating and lifestyle in children.”

He added that these preventive measures can cut down diabetes by as much as 32 percent.

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