The Rise of Diabetes in India



What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a prevalent issue and the amount of people being diagnosed with diabetes is increasing annually, especially in India. Diabetes can be defined as a persisting condition that interferes with how people’s bodies convert food into energy. After eating, food is turned into glucose, or sugar, and this is sent out into the bloodstream. When the sugar level in the bloodstream increases, insulin is released to allow cells in the body to use the glucose for energy. People with diabetes have the issue of not creating enough insulin or can’t efficiently use the insulin, resulting in excess glucose remaining in the bloodstream. There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while one is pregnant) .


The Prevalence of Diabetes

According to the International Diabetes Federation, about 72.9 million adults in India had diabetes in 2017, which increased from 40.9 million adults in previous years. Experts even estimate that 134 million people in India will have diabetes by 2045 if nothing changes. There is a huge increase in diabetes in the population of India, but most of these cases are Type 2 diabetes as well as Type 1 diabetes cases have also risen by 3 to 5 percent since 2015.


What are the Causes?

Factors like vegetarian options that are packed with more carbs, fats, and oils; less exercise; more time spent on technology; lack of knowledge about preventing diabetes in the first place; environmental pollution; a history of diabetes in the family; Asian people having more visceral fat; and more seem to be causing the drastic increase. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visceral fat can be defined as “active” fat located around the organs and necessary to drive biological processes that people of Asian descent often have more of. Due to standard BMI not being able to detect the extra visceral fat, Asian Americans are at higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes, and physicians are not able to detect this and give treatment options. Additionally, urbanization has caused Western diets to become popular in India, leading to more processed foods and refined carbs being consumed and people being less active. With less nutritious food and more sedentary lives, people are more at risk for having either type of diabetes. Further, a study done in 2017 mentions how diabetes has been affecting individuals of lower socioeconomic position in the urban places of the more economically developed states in India in the study.


How to Prevent and Reduce Getting Diabetes

Some actions that could be done are creating and promoting diabetes prevention education programs since people knowing that they could be at risk would help them adopt a healthier lifestyle to reduce the risk in rural and urban areas. Preventing diabetes from the start would be more helpful in the long run since people wouldn’t be affected in the first place by diabetes and would not have to get treated for diabetes; they would also be healthier and not be at risk for other conditions if they are already leading healthier lifestyles. People of Asian heritage in India and other countries should also be tested for high blood sugar and screening for diabetes whenever they meet their primary physician to check diabetes risk. Some solutions include also providing diabetes care to rural and urban places, ensuring cholesterol and blood pressure control, giving proper blood glucose management through insulin, and enforcing early diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, focusing on promoting healthy diets and consistently exercising are good methods to delay the chances of getting diabetes.


Organizations that can Help Efforts

Key organizations include the International Diabetes Federation and other similar diabetes organizations that play a role in preventing and reducing the cases of both types of diabetes in India and all over the world. Other institutes in India, like the India Council of Medical Research and the Department of Health, play a role in conducting studies and finding patterns about which states in India are affected by diabetes and other demographics who may be more at risk to focus efforts on more.


Disparities to Note

With people of lower socioeconomic status not having as much access to medical care and other resources, there is more urgency for preventing and treating diabetes to prevent the gap of healthcare disparities from increasing. There is an emphasis on the importance of prevention and education as well as treatment for people who already have diabetes and other conditions like obesity for example. There needs to be easy accessibility for everyone to prevent the cases of diabetes from increasing even more.


Thank you for reading!

-Siri Nikku


 

References


Anjana, R. M., Deepa, M., Pradeepa, R., Mahanta, J., Narain, K., Das, H. K., . . . Mohan, V. (2017). Prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in 15 states of India: Results from the ICMR–INDIAB population-based cross-sectional study. The Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology, 5(8). doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(17)30174-2

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 25). Diabetes and Asian Americans. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/diabetes-asian-americans.html


Han, D. H. (2019, March 25). FDA rejects Zynquista NDA for Type 1 diabetes treatment. Endocrinology Advisor. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/home/topics/diabetes/type-1-diabetes/fda-rejects-zynquista-nda-for-type-1-diabetes-treatment/


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . (2021, December 16). What is diabetes? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html


Zimlich, R. (2021, September 09). Diabetes in India: Prevalence, Rise in Diagnosis, and More (L. Hodgson, Ed.). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diabetes-in-india#prevalence

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