Confirming diabetes to be one of the “global health emergencies” whose prevalence is on the rise, a new research pinpoints at prolonged hours of sitting as one of the causes that needs urgent attention.
As per the 10th edition of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF)’s Diabetes Atlas, 537 million adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes worldwide –- 1 in 10 individuals. It is projected to reach 643 million by 2030, and 783 million by 2045.
In fact, as per the research’s global fact sheet 2021, diabetes caused 6.7 million deaths in 2021 – one every five seconds. Notably, IDF describes diabetes as a serious, chronic condition that occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
The research for 215 countries and territories, grouped into the seven IDF Regions: Africa (AFR), Europe (EUR), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), North America and Caribbean (NAC), South and Central America (SACA), South-East Asia (SEA) and the Western Pacific (WP), noted that an estimated 44 per cent of adults living with diabetes (240 million people) are undiagnosed, which is “overwhelmingly type 2”.
“Almost 90 per cent of these people live in low income and middle-income countries. This highlights the urgent need to improve the ability to diagnose people with diabetes, many of whom are unaware they have diabetes, and provide appropriate and timely care for all people with diabetes as early as possible,” it noted.
The data also shows that hyperglycaemia in pregnancy (HIP) affects approximately one in six pregnancies.
Dr Shaival Chandalia, Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai, said the positive news is that previously undiagnosed diabetes is being detected. “It is due to increased surveillance of blood sugars in the general population, stricken by Covid or otherwise,” Dr Chandalia told indianexpress.com.
India, which ranks number two in the world after China with 74.2 millions living with diabetes currently, is projected to see 124.9 millions living with diabetes by 2045 in the 20-79 years of age. Also, India has the highest estimated number of prevalent type 1 diabetes cases in people under 20 years of age (2,29,400), followed by USA (157,900) and Brazil 92,300.
As per the research, the rise is driven by population ageing, economic development and increasing urbanisation, leading to more sedentary lifestyles and greater consumption of unhealthy foods linked with obesity. However, the beneficial results of early detection, more effective treatment and the resulting longer survival are also contributing to the rise in prevalence.
“With increasing weight, insulin resistance is known to increase exponentially, thereby predisposing people to diabetes,” said Dr Dilip Gude, Consultant Physician, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.
Dr Gude also highlighted that people who contracted Covid-19 may likely be put on medicines that “may cause glucose intolerance”, another reason which could push them to develop diabetes. “Most of these patients revert back to being non-diabetic after covid treatment but a substantial number of them remain diabetic as covid treatment has only unmasked an underlying diabetes condition,” he mentioned while stressing that higher calorie diet, stress –both physical and mental, staying indoors all the time, Vitamin D deficiency, etc have caused an alarming rise in the overall incidence of diabetes.
“Diabetic patients also have had progressive difficulty in controlling their sugars as with weight gain, the doses of medicines need to be upped. Classes of medications such as sulfonylureas and insulins further increase body weight via their anabolic effect, and it’s very hard to break the vicious cycle,” he added.
Sharing certain lifestyle tweaks that can help, he said “moderate to strenuous exercise, alternating cardio training, and weight training, working out for at least 45 minutes all days in the week” can be beneficial.
“Ensuring low calorie, high protein, high fibre diet with low glycemic index, watching what one eats, periodic weight checks help one control body weight and thus reduce the risk of diabetes. The right-leaning on the spectrum of non-diabetes, prediabetes, and diabetes can be reversed back to left with adequate weight loss measures and lowering one’s BMI to less than 23,” he said.