Why 17% Of Diabetics In The World Are Indians

Posted on July 14, 2015 in Health and Life

By Ruchika Thakur:

India is the country with the largest number of diabetics in the world and the percentage is only expected to double by 2025. Obesity being one of the leading causes for diabetes; it becomes crucial for us to take that extra step to living a healthy life . Watching TV for long hours, binging on unhealthy foods and lack of physical activity are the known causes for obesity which in turn leads to diabetes.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

But it’s not only our lifestyle; Indians are inherently prone to contracting diabetes because of the physical structure. We are known to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) plus we have a higher percentage of fat concentrated in the abdominal area compared to the Europeans. Indians also have an increased insulin resistance compared to Caucasians leading to Insulin Resistance Syndrome (IRS). A strong familial aggregation is also observed among Indians, making genetic factors a strong cause for diabetes.

According to International Diabetes Federation, India had 19.4 million diabetics in 1994 and this number increased three times in 2014 to 66.8 million. This means, approximately 17% of the world’s diabetics are Indians and another 77 million Indians are believed to be pre-diabetic according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Urban India is especially prone to contracting diabetes compared to rural India. Why exactly is this disease spreading like an epidemic in India? Why are Indians more prone to having diabetes? According to this research paper published in the year 2004, the answer lies in our unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity coupled with inherent genetic attributes and difference in body composition. Many young adults are contracting Type 2 diabetes, which is full blown diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and permanently disables the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. This is insulin-dependent diabetes. The second kind of diabetes is the severe form of diabetes, which was earlier unheard of among young adults and children but with increasing obesity in children, a large number of children are plagued with this disease.

So what is the solution? We can’t just blame our genetics for being ill. The solution lies in being healthy, moreover, adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The government has acted in a positive manner to curb the menace of diabetes. It launched a programme based on pilot basis called the National Program for Control of Diabetes (NPCD) in the year 2008, to make people aware about the non-communicable diseases. The main objective was early diagnosis and intervention at nascent stages of the disease. Early diagnosis of diabetes may prevent or slow the onset of full-blown diabetes especially amongst children who show mild symptoms and remain undiagnosed for a long time. The program also aimed at establishing intervention at community and school level.

A positive alteration in one’s lifestyle can prevent diabetes. It can be avoided by regular physical activity, paying attention to your diet and eating healthy foods. And as someone has rightly said “small steps lead to bigger things”, so start with smaller alterations like going for walks, reducing Trans-fats, sugary drinks and opting for their healthier counterparts. After all, it is for you to decide if you want to be a part of the epidemic or not.