Why Is Diabetes So Common In India?


India is #63 on the WHO list of diabetes prevalence. That list is based on the percent of the population in the country with diabetes. In 2015, 9.3% of Indians had diabetes. Of a population of over 1.2 billion people, that small percent actually adds up to over 116 million people in India having diabetes. That makes India the 2nd most diabetic nation in the world, behind China, if you think of just the number of people having diabetes. Not good! Why does this happen? Some people just say Indians are genetically more prone to diabetes. As a health professional, I can't deny genetics, but I also understand that Type 2 diabetes is also very much lifestyle related. That means your lifestyle can either increase your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes or it can decrease your chances. In the past, India's population did not have near the number of diabetics, because people were more active in their work. But as development happened, more people moved into the cities and started less active jobs often involving high stress, which made them more sedentary and stressed. Then food portions increased and eating out became more common. High carbohydrate meals with much oil became very prevalent in restaurants and homes. With the change to sedentary lifestyles and no changes in nutrition to offset this, it is clear to see why diabetes and obesity are on the rise. I met a guy recently who was just diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at age 35. This has happened in many developed nations. The most developed nations are often the most obese nations. So, how do we combat this? Do the opposite! If your lifestyle is leading you towards diabetes, then making some changes are crucial for your quality of life and its longevity. Getting regularly physically active and taking balanced and healthy foods and portions will help you do everything you can control outside of genetics to prevent diabetes.