It is not news anymore that India will soon be the diabetes capital of the world. Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) has informed that the diabetic population in our country will cross the 100 million mark, when every fifth diabetic will be an Indian. Anuradha Dutta reports from Kolkata. IBNS | 9 months ago


With more than 63 million people being affected by the disease, India is only next to China which has 92.3 million diabetics, at present. India's eastern state West Bengal with 3.5pc - 5.7pc diabetic population is behind the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, but in some districts the situation is grim.

The situation is serious in the three districts of Howrah, Kolkata and Burdwan where the disease has the highest prevalence.

Howrah tops the list at 13.2pc followed by Kolkata and Burdawan which are at 12pc and 8.7pc respectively.

Dr. Subhankar Chowdhury, Secetary, RSSDI attributes the high prevalence of diabetes to genetic and environmental factor.

While the genes are something we inherit, environmental factors can be easily altered with some effort to reduce the risk of diabetes by as much as 50pc .

Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress, obesity, diet rich in fat, sugar and calories all form the part of environmental factors.

Explaining the reason behind the high incidences in the three districts, Dr. Subhankar Chowdhury said, "The rural transformation can be held responsible for this as people are fast resorting to junk food, which are high in calories, as an instant remedy to hunger or as a quick evening snack. With no fitness regimen to replace the active life they once used to have, the population is fast succumbing to diabetes in these areas."

Upper body fat or central obesity puts a person under the risk of diabetes.

"One can compare a centrally obese person to the shape of an apple. Such people should immediately improve their lifestyle and take doctors advice for proper diet and exercise," he said.

"Racially too, we have low muscle mass than the western people. For example, a baby born in India and England, to Indian and British parents respectively, can have the same body weight say 2.5 kg, but the Indian baby will have 22pc fat while the British new born will have 8pc -9pc fat. This further increases our risk for diabetes and our need
to exercise regularly," informed Dr. Chowdhury.

According to recent observations, one in every six adult is a type-II diabetic, while one in every three person when admitted to a hospital tests positive for the disease.

Type I diabetes though occurring in around 5pc of the population has lesser rate of survival due to the high cost involved in daily administration of insulin.

As diabetes is fast engulfing more people to take the form of an epidemic, efforts are on by the doctors of the Post Graduate Medical College, Kolkata to forward the best solution to the patients.

Dr. Sujoy Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Post Graduate Medical College, Kolkata revealed that Type II diabetes is now rampant among adolescent children, as well.

"We are finding obesity as the main reason behind adolescent diabetes. Again the environmental factors are playing a big role here," Dr. Ghosh said.

In the fight to figure out every single reason behind high blood sugar levels, a new study has revealed that low levels of Vitamin D in the blood can contribute to a person's risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

"At least 80pc adult population of Kolkata has vitamin D deficiency," Dr Ghosh said.

Explaining the reason behind the deficiency, he said, "Here also we can blame it on our lifestyle and genes. As a habit, we do not expose ourselves to sunlight, wear fully covered clothes, apply sunscreen before going out in the sunlight and our diet does not include milk products or we only have skimmed and double toned milk these days. Most of the Indians are dark complexioned, this also hinders formation of vitamin D."

Since, waist size is an important indicator of central obesity and a significant indicator to mark the risk of diabetes, a research is underway that will replace the practice of measuring waist size with neck circumference, in the Postgraduate medical college.

The institution is also ready to dedicate an entire floor for the treatment of diabetes in the basement of its upcoming building.

According to International Diabetes Federation, 187 million people in the world are still to be diagnosed with diabetes and the matter is no different with our country as half of the diabetic patients are still unaware of their disease and continue to suffer without any treatment.

Realising the need to create mass awareness for diabetes, the United Nations endorsed the World Diabetes Day, observed on Nov 14 as an official United Nations day in 2007.

The day is celebrated world wide in more than 160 countries to spread greater understanding about the disease and open newer pathways of research in the field.

(Posted on 12-11-2013)