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Close to 8% of Indian Population Has Diabetes


Close to 8 per cent – 7.8 per cent to be precise – of the total Indian population has diabetes and over 21 per cent people are overweight, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. In India, there were 11.9 million diabetic people in 1980 and this number has now gone up to 64.5 million in 2014. Diabetes also results in 2 per cent of the total deaths. Prevalence of diabetes among men in India has gone up from 3.7 per cent to 9.1 and that of women has increased from 4.6 per cent to 8.6 per cent. While as of now, percentage of men and women suffering from diabetes is almost equal, more women showed risk factors leading to diabetes than men. If 19 per cent men were overweight, the percentage of such women was 23.9 per cent, 3.1 per cent men were obese, the percentage of women was 6.5 per cent; and the percentage of men who were physically inactive was 9.2 per cent but the percentage was much higher in women – 15.1 per cent. In simple terms, women with a high risk factor were more likely to develop diabetes in the future if preventive measures were not taken.

According to the first WHO Global Report on Diabetes, released to mark the world Health Day, the number of adults living with diabetes has gone up four times globally since 1980 from 108 million to 422 million in 2014 accounting for more than 8.5 per cent of the population. This means one in every 11 persons is diabetic. Risk factors like overweight and obesity, too, had shown a dramatic increase. Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths globally in 2012. High sugar levels can also cause heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation. Diabetes is a chronic, progressive NCD characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). It occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

There are three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown and people living with it require daily insulin administration for survival. Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of people living with diabetes globally, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Once seen only in adults, type 2 diabetes is now increasingly occurring in children and young people. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs in pregnancy and carries long-term risk of type 2 diabetes. It is present when blood glucose values are above normal but still below those diagnostic of diabetes.

Diabetes, known as the silent killer, can be prevented by expanding health-promoting environments to reduce diabetes risk factor like physical inactivity and unhealthy diets, and strengthening national capacities to help people with diabetes receive the treatment and care they need to manage their conditions. ``If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,’’ says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General. ``Even in the poorest setting s, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes,’’ she has said.

“Diabetes rarely makes headlines, and yet it will be the world’s seventh largest killer by 2030 unless intense and focused efforts are made by governments, communities and individuals,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said. “Diabetes is of particular concern in the Region. More than one out of every four of the 3.7 million diabetes-related deaths globally occur in the Region, while its prevalence exacerbates difficulties in the control of major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. Almost half of the 96 million people suffering the disease don’t know they have it. If diabetes prevalence continues to rise, the personal, social and economic consequences will deepen,” she said. According to the WHO, governments must regulate the marketing of food to children, and insist on accurate food labeling to help consumers make decisions that can help them avoid diabetes. Taxing sugary beverages and re-investing the revenue in health promotion activities is an evidence-based intervention that makes real change. Dr Khetrapal Singh said that governments must also increase access to health care and promote educational campaigns regarding self-management and control, as well as making treatment less costly. Diabetes can be managed successfully."

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