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Junk Food, Low Physical Activity Leading Risk Factors For Diabetes: Report

According to the report, high intake of junk food and fried foods accounts for 47 per cent of the relative risk of developing diabetes.

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World diabetes day 2019

Junk food, low physical activity, low intake of fruits and vegetables in the diet are leading risk factors for diabetes in India, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) report. The report titled “Diabetes in India” was produced by ASSOCHAM and the Delhi-based think tank, Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI). 

According to the report, the prevalence of diabetes cases in India almost doubled from 42.6 million cases in 2005 to 85.4 cases in 2019. Globally, on the other hand, the prevalence of diabetes increased from 273.4 cases in 2005 to 460 million cases in 2019. 

Over the last years, India has become the global hub for diabetes cases with the prevalence of cases increasing from 15.6 per cent to 18.6 per cent cases in the same interval. The other risk factors are low physical activity (38 per cent), low intake of fruits and vegetables (28 per cent) and other causes such as stress, pollution, and high consumption of alcohol and carbonated/ sugary drinks. 

"This year marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. It is, however, unfortunate that Diabetes has been underrated as a global public health issue. This needs to be addressed on priority and we as a nation need to take urgent important steps to address this challenge. It is a fact that Diabetes is one of the top three NCDs in India and with each year the burden of this disease is rising," Anil Rajput, Chairperson of ASSOCHAM CSR Council. 

The report also outlined the prevalence landscape of diabetes in that it accounts for 25 per cent of all NCDs in India at a rate of 2.9 per cent. The disease incidence increases significantly in individuals above 35 years of age and affects men more than women.  

“Diabetes prevention must be part of a larger national mission. Students should be taught ‘Health Science’ as a subject in schools which can help in preventing this disease and creating awareness about healthy lifestyles among our future generations. We must also change the age limit for the cyclical three-year testing protocol for sugar from 30 years presently to 25 years of age," said President of Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI), Dr Banshi Saboo. 

The report also finds that about 16.8 per cent of the male adult population (>15 years) and 14.6 per cent of the female adult population (> 15 years) on average are estimated to be diabetic. The prevalence of diabetes is highest in southern states including Puducherry, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and lowest in UP and Rajasthan. 

“Diabetes can be prevented even at the pregnancy stage. Healthy mothers give birth to healthy children. We must also educate and inform people that this disease is reversible with a healthy lifestyle and timely interventions. Babies who are healthier, not obese, have a far lesser risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. It is advised that we must now have a National Diabetes Month in November to spread awareness and access about Diabetes amongst people," said Chairperson and HOD, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital New Delhi, Dr Sudhir Tripathi. 

About 7 per cent of the respondents who were suffering from diabetes stated that they were not seeking any treatment at all. However, more than 56 per cent of the respondents stated that they are seeking treatment for more than one year, a fact testifying to the indisputable and inevitable morbidity of this disease.

Dr Dinesh Agarwal, Senior Consultant Internist & Head of Department, Department of Medicine Marwari Hospitals, Vice Chairman, RSSDI Assam Chapter, said, “One of the key risk factors and causes of diabetes is stress and junk food. Even children undergo a huge amount of stress these days due to a highly competitive and strained environment. It is a fact that stress leads to hormonal changes which in turn can trigger diabetes in individuals. Add to this the fact that lack of exercise among both children and adults leads to an onset of the disease which could have been easily avoided by following simple steps.” 

Meanwhile, the survey was designed and conducted by IMRB-Kantar and covered 2,33,672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 state clusters covering appropriate regions and age segments.

“Diabetes free India is a dream for all of us. Diabetes, a chronic disease, has so many affected all of us either as families or as individuals. It is important to control this disease because not only does it cause many other diseases or co-morbidities and complications to take place, but also leads to a huge economic burden. The interesting aspect here is that 95 per cent of diabetes can be prevented, and it is important that we all work towards this," said Founder and Director of Total Care Control, Delhi-NCR, Dr Rajesh Kesari, said.

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