India is facing a diabetes crisis.
According to a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India now has over 101 million people living with diabetes, a significant increase from 70 million in 2019.
Although some developed states show stabilising numbers, many others have seen a rise in diabetes prevalence, which is explained as "warranting urgent state-specific interventions" to tackle the problem.
Moreover, as per the study, at least 136 million people, or 15.3 per cent of the population, have prediabetes, which is a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, but not high enough to be considered type-2 diabetes.
The situation is quite critical as people with prediabetes are at a high risk of developing diabetes without taking necessary lifestyle changes.
The likelihood of developing diabetes has been explained as following the rule of thirds — a third of people with pre-diabetes will develop diabetes in a few years, while another one-third may remain pre-diabetic.
However, the remaining one-third may reverse the condition due to factors like a healthy diet, lifestyle, and exercise.
The highest prevalence of diabetes was observed in Goa (26.4 per cent), followed by Puducherry (26.3 per cent) and Kerala (25.5 per cent).
The average national prevalence stands at 11.4 per cent.
The study warns that states with lower prevalence, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Arunachal Pradesh, could see an explosion of diabetes cases over the next few years.
The study screened more than 1 lakh people from rural and urban areas between 18 October 2008 and 17 December 2020.
In 2019, the survey showed that there were 74 million people with diabetes in India.
Two years later, when the survey covered all the low-prevalence northeast states and omitted some of the high-prevalence states, the prevalence dropped to 72 million.
“This time, we included 31 states and UTs. The weighted prevalence is now reflecting the ground reality,” senior diabetologist Dr V Mohan said.
The ICMR study also presented other risk factors for diabetes, including hypertension, cholesterol levels, and obesity.
The survey showed that the population's hypertension stands at 35.5 per cent, while 81.2 per cent have abnormal levels of cholesterol (dyslipidemia).
About 28.6 per cent of the population has generalised obesity, and 39.5 per cent were found to have abdominal obesity — which increases the risk of cardiac arrest, stroke, and kidney disease.
Scientists have recommended that states assess the state-specific trends contributing to the diabetes crisis, given the substantial variation in prevalence between states.
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