A study on diabetes has estimated that 62 million people in the country have the condition, 10% of whom are in Maharashtra.
“After all, people living in Maharashtra have an oil-rich diet, have high stress levels and suffer from sleep deprivation ,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, an endocrinologist with Lilavati Hospital and one of the investigators in the study, sponsored by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and done after three decades.
“Diabetes is showing an alarming increase , but medical practitioners are not shocked with the findings.” The study covered 16,607 people in Maharashtra , Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Chandigarh ; the findings were extrapolated to the rest of India. It found Maharashtra with 6 million diabetics and 9.3 million prediabetics, Tamil Nadu with 4.8 million diabetics and 3.9 prediabetics , Jharkhand with 0.96 million diabetics and 1.5 million prediabetics and Chandigarh with 0.12 million diabetics and 0.13 million prediabetics . The projections for the country are 62.4 million diabetics and 77.2 million prediabetics .
As per another projection of the study, the number of diabetics was 51 million in 2010. That it is 62 million this year “is an increase of 11 million in just one year” , said Dr V Mohan of the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and the principal investigator of the study. “In 2000, 31 million had the condition, and in 2007 41 million.”
Worst, “for every person with diabetes, there is another with prediabetes” , said Dr Joshi.
Dr Mohan is worried that the incidence of diabetes will continue to increase. “We are not going to reach a plateau soon, given the number of prediabetics.”
Also, diabetes is projected to assume epidemic proportions in the villages. “Diabetes began as a rich man’s disease, but is now mainly a problem of the middle classes . Also, as affluence and urbanization occurs in rural areas, diabetes will affect more in the population,” he said. “Our ongoing study in Kerala shows that the incidence of diabetes in rural areas is higher than in urban areas. It’s the same in Tamil Nadu. Diabetes is now an index of our GDP. The more affluent a state, the more the number of diabetics there.”
Apart from genetic reasons, the risk factors for diabetes include a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to obesity and stress-triggers for the condition.
Dr Joshi said lifestyle modifications, change of diet and regular exercise could go a long way to check diabetes. “Every woman with a waist circumference of over 80 cm and every man with a waist circumference of over 90 cm should check for diabetes each year. Even lean people over 40 years of age should do so. Most important, people have to adopt a proactive lifestyle. Eat less, eat on time and eat right. And reduce the number of hours in front of the television and online.”