What we are up against

What is diabetes?

Insulin is a critical hormone produced by the pancreas that is responsible for the regulation of blood sugar levels in the body.

When he body – for whatever reason is unable to regulate blood sugar levels, the resultant spike in blood sugar leads to a condition called Hyperglycaemia.

When this condition becomes chronic it results in Diabetes.

Diabetes may occur when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin. This is called type 1 diabetes and is more attributable to genetics.

Diabetes also occurs when the body is unable to properly utilise the insulin it produces. This is called type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetics and poor lifestyle choices.

Type 2 diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus is the more prevalent type of diabetes.

Then there is prediabetes, also called borderline diabetes or gestational diabetes. This is characterised by increased levels – or sudden spikes – in blood sugar but not yet diagnosed as full-blown diabetes mellitus.

Effects of diabetes

Diabetes causes serious damage to many bodily systems, particularly the nerves and blood vessels.

It is one of the primary cause of losing vision, kidney failure, heart attacks & stroke and lower limb amputation.

According to WHO, diabetes was the seventh-largest cause of death in 2016 accounting for 1.6 million deaths in that year alone.

The global prevalence of diabetes

Around the world, diabetes among adults increased by 4x in 34 years, from 108 million (4.7% of the global population) in 1980 to 422 million (8.5% of the global population) in 2014.

Prevalence of type-2 diabetes alone is expected to increase to 438 million by 2030 from 285 million people (recorded in 2010).

Prevalence of diabetes has been rising more rapidly in middle-income and low-income countries and these countries account for 80% of diabetes-related deaths.

India is the diabetes capital of the world

Diabetes is the fastest-growing disease in India with 72 million cases in 2017.

There is a 10.4% prevalence of diabetes among adult Indians.

By 2035, there are likely to be 109 million diabetics in India.

Four key reasons why Indians are so prone to diabetes:

  • Ethnicity – Our ethnicity makes us more genetically predisposed towards diabetes. This is not a factor under our control
  • Resistance to insulin – Our cells genetically don’t respond as well to insulin as those of a Europeans do. Again, this is not a factor under our control
  • Lifestyle changes – Economic development and urbanisation means better nutrition and increased calorie intake, but also mean less manual labour and more sedentary lifestyles. We have the control to address this by making lifestyle changes: making prudent dietary choices and exercising.
  • Obesity – Closely correlates to lifestyle changes and can be addressed in much the same way.