India in race with China to become global diabetic capital

Updated: Nov 15, 2012, 12:22 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

For once India is fast catching up with China. But rather than being a matter of celebration this development is bound to ring alarm bells all over. India faces a major challenge to rein in its growing diabetic count. India with 63 million diabetic patients is just next to China (92.3 million) in the race to become the diabetes capital of the world, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas released on November 14, 2012.

According to IDF Atlas data, globally more than 371 million people are found to be living with diabetes. An estimated 90 per cent of the cases are of Type 2, caused by insufficient amounts of insulin being available for reduction of blood glucose levels.

The India situation is grim what with sedentary lifestyle prevailing across key metros and big cities aggravating the situation. Dr. Sanjiv Bhambani, consultant, Endocrinology at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi, laments, “Diabetes is the result of our habitual sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress and consumption of diets rich in fat, sugar and calories. In India sugar consumption is much higher in the form of sweets consumed on various occasions leading to higher risk of diabetes.”

“The major chunk of Indian population suffering from this disease has Type 2 diabetes which is closely associated with obesity and consumption of junk and fast foods especially in metropolitan cities,” discloses Dr. Bhambani at Moolchand.

There are now 70 million people with diabetes in South East Asia and this number is expected to increase by 2030 to 121 million.One in four of all diabetes deaths occur in South-East Asia.That diabetic and obese people are more prone to Non – Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has been reiterated by Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, associate professor at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences. Dr. Sharma told Zee News in an interview earlier this year that, “Of all the diabetic patients, there is a chance of two–third of them to have fatty liver disease.”

The emergence of diabetes is turning out to be globally debilitating: new estimates released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that 187 million are still to be diagnosed. By the end of the year, 4.8 million people will have died from diabetes related complications. Half of these deaths will be in people under the age of 60.

In order to make India diabetes free, the Government of India has initiated a National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) in 100 selected districts in 21 States. Thirty districts were taken up during 2010-11 and remaining 70 Districts have been added during 2011-12. The community based strategies and activities include prevention and control of diabetes at various levels like at sub-centres, Community Health Centre (CHC), district hospital and at various other places through screening of all persons above 30 years of age and all pregnant women, awareness generation on healthy life style and management of non- communicable diseases by establishing cardiac care units at district hospitals and community health centres of 100 selected districts of 21 states in the country.

This effort, however, has yet to show any major changes in the spread of the disease in the country. Dr. Bhambani at Moolchand Medcity emphasises, “Diabetes is a serious condition killing more people than other deadly diseases like AIDS and cancer.” He has on offer a simple prescription for diabetic care: A healthy per day calorie intake should be between 1,500-1,800 calories with a proportion of 60:20:20 between carbohydrates, fats and proteins, respectively.

Given the imperative lifestyle change to mitigate the disease, it is important to ensure that a balance is maintained at all costs. Dr.Sujeet Jha, director at Institute of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Max Health Care says, “For people with diabetes, healthy eating is not simply a matter of what one eats, but also when one eats.”

As regards the choice of food intake, the diet most often recommended is high in dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, but low in fat (especially saturated fat). The food ought to reflect a balance with all the food groups and veggies being the largest part of the meal.