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Diabetes cases up tenfold in Chennai in 40 years Diabetes cases up tenfold in Chennai in 40 years

Nov-11-2014 | 0 Comments

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CHENNAI: There has been a quantum leap in prevalence of diabetes in Chennai and Delhi, and if the figures apply for other parts of the country, India would be home to the largest diabetic population on earth.

The Centre for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia (CARRS) study conducted by the Madras Diabetic Research Foundation (MDRF) has shown that more than 24% of people in Chennai and Delhi, besides Karachi, are diabetics. This is a tenfold increase in their numbers since 1970, when the diabetic population stood at 2.3%.

In Chennai, 38% of people above the age of 40 are diabetics. "Especially the Chennai numbers are startling," said Dr V Mohan of MDRF. "The study shows the prevalence of diabetes in people above 20 years of age has gone up from 18.6% six years ago to 24.7% now." In the past 40 years, diabetes has broken many barriers. While earlier it was believed to be the rich man's disease, today it is found in the poorest of people. Over time, diabetes has destroyed the urban-rural divide as well, as sedentary lifestyle and a high fat diet has become common among all Indians.

"Everyone is at risk," said Dr Mohan. Adding to the trouble is Indian's genetic predisposition to diabetes. On the brighter side, detection at pre-diabetes stage and early intervention using a diet-exercise regime can prevent if not delay diabetes, experts have found.

Diabetes has demolished another theory—that Indians living in the US are more prone to the disorder than those living in India. The Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study done by the Madras Diabetic Research Foundation (MDRF), compared the prevalence of diabetes among people in India and migrant Indians living in San Francisco. "While it was believed that NRIs were more prone to diabetes, the study showed that Indians living in India have surpassed that too.

The prevalence of diabetes in Chennai was 38% in those above 40 years of age, compared to 24% among migrant Indians in San Francisco," said Dr V Mohan of MDRF. The MASALA study also showed that the prevalence of pre-diabetes was higher in San Francisco than in India. "This is simply because our folks are changing from the pre-diabetes phase into diabetes in a more rapid fashion than Indians living abroad," said Dr Mohan.

While there has been a debate over whether genetic factors or environmental factors play a more important role in the high prevalence of diabetes in India, Dr Mohan pointed out that unchecked consumption of white rice was one of the major reasons for the alarming increase in diabetes cases in India, followed by physical inactivity and urbanization.

"White rice intake and diabetes rates go hand in hand. Studies show that the risk of diabetes increases fourfold if the consumption of white rice increases from 200g to 400g for every individual," said the doctor. He said that consuming brown rice or rice rich in fibre would make a lot of difference in reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity. "It is high time we dropped the rice rich diet and included a lot of veggies in our meals.

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