Diabetes has emerged as a major health problem in India.  In India, there are nearly 50 million diabetics, according to the statistics of the International Diabetes Federation. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 200 million people all over the world suffer from diabetes and this number is likely to be doubled by 2030. It is predicted that the countries with the largest number of diabetic people will be India. According to the recent study in Chennai, nearly 25 percent of the population was unaware of diabetes.

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Diabetes is a metabolism disorder. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood – it is the source of fuel for our bodies. When our food is digested, the glucose enters into our bloodstream. Our cells make use of the glucose for energy and growth. Insulin makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose.
Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas. The pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, then the glucose levels drop.
A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycemia). This is because the body does not produce enough insulin, or produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin produced by the pancreas. This results in rise of glucose levels in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body through urine. So, the cells are not able to make use of the glucose.

The Risk Factors for Diabetes Are:

  • Age—Indians develop diabetes at a very young age, at least 10 to 15 years earlier than the western population. An early occurrence of diabetes gives ample time for development of the chronic complications of diabetes.
  • Genetic background—the prevalence of diabetes increases with a family history of diabetes. The risk of a child developing diabetes with a parental history increases above 50 per cent. A high incidence of diabetes is seen among the first degree relatives. Indians have a high genetic risk for diabetes as observed in Asian Indians who have migrated to other countries. They have been found to have a higher rate of diabetes as compared to the local population.
  • Obesity—the association of obesity with Diabetes is well known. The weight gain could increase the risk of diabetes. An excess of body fat specially concentrated within the abdomen has an increased risk of diabetes. The cut-off limit for waist circumference for Indians has been recommended to be 90 cm for males and 80 cm for females. Abdominal obesity is defined by waist circumference above these limits.
  • Physical Inactivity—there is enough evidence to demonstrate that physical inactivity as a independent factor for the development of. The availability of motorized transport and a shift in occupations combined with the plethora of television programs has reduced the physical activity in all groups of populations.
  • Insulin Resistance—Asian Indians have been found to be more insulin resistant as compared to the western population. They have a higher level of insulin to achieve the same the blood glucose control. A cluster of factors consisting of abnormal fats, high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormal glucose levels known as metabolic syndrome is highly prevalent in Asian Indians.
  • Urbanization—Urbanization is in great progress in the developing countries like India which made its way to increasing obesity, decreasing physical activity due to changes in lifestyle, diet.
  • Stress—the impact of stress both physical and mental along with lifestyle changes has a strong effect of increasing Diabetes.

Hence keeping all these factors in mind, one should find their own ways of preventing from being affected by diabetes.The US Diabetes Prevention Program and the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Program and the Chinese Study have conclusively proved that lifestyle modification including weight loss, increased physical activity and dietary changes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. There is a need to educate the public and to replicate campaigns, awareness about diabetes and its complications.

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