Rapid urbanisation and a consequent adoption of western lifestyles are major factors fuelling the diabetes epidemic in India. This is leading to fall in average age of diabetes patients and rise in type 2 diabetes among young adults.
On World Health Day, diabetes experts have attributed the rise in incidence of type 2 diabetes in India to lifestyle factors such as reduced level of physical activity, increase in obesity, and increase in consumption of high carb low fibre foods.
It is notable that India is witnessing urbanisation at a very fast pace, with over 30 per cent of its population already living in urban centres. At the same time, urban ways of living have also made their way in rural areas.
Often known as the diabetes capital of the world, India has been witnessing an alarming rise in incidence of diabetes in young adults according to the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries. With over 67 million Indians already recognized with having diabetes and 77 million pre-diabetics, the country has become home to the world’s second largest population of diabetics after China.
The most disturbing trend is the shift in age of onset of diabetes to a younger age in the recent years. Notably, an increasing number of children and young adults are falling prey to type 2 diabetes.
“There is a close association between urban lifestyles and increased incidence of diabetes. Urban lifestyles are characterized by increased sedentary nature of jobs, consumption of junk foods & processed foods, overweight people and drastically reduced levels of physical activity. All these factors offer a perfect recipe for proliferation of diabetes. Earlier we would hardly come across patients below 40 years being diabetic. However, today, we encounter cases with patients under the age of 30 getting type 2 diabetes. Few years ago Type 2 Diabetes was believed to affect only adults and its incidence in children was extremely low but that’s no longer the case. It is hitting the children and young adults now,” said Dr Rachna Kulcheria COO, Diabetacare
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) fact sheet on diabetes, the global burden of type-2 diabetes is expected to increase to 438 million by 2030 from 285 million people (recorded in 2010). In India this increase is estimated to be 58 per cent, from 51 million people in 2010 to 87 million in 2030.
“How we live is a major determinant to our chances of acquiring some diseases. Excess consumption of calories, simple sugars, saturated fats and consumption of less fibre, and reduced physical activity are the main contributing factors. The rising numbers also turn our attention to better diabetes management and at Diabetacare we have turned this into our focus to make diabetes monitoring, reporting and management easier with the help of cutting edge technology,” says Dr Sanjiv Agarwal, Founder CEO of Diabetacare, a leading diabetes management program.
Apart from improving diabetes management, it is also crucial to educate people about risks and prevention mechanisms. Keeping BMI under control, indulging in daily physical exercises, and controlled consumption of junk foods are crucial interventions that need to be inculcated among children and young adults.