India has become the diabetes capital of the world, explain how bad is the situation and how India has reached this point.

1 in 6 people with diabetes is from India. These numbers place India on the 2nd spot among the top 10 countries for people with diabetes. With an estimated 77 million diabetics the country is only 2nd to its northern neighbour China. The communist nation comes at the top with over 116 million diabetics.

India’s rapid economic growth has brought a higher quality of life for her citizens leading to improved social and health conditions since the 90s. It has also led to rise of diseases like Diabetes. According to an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report, Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing health concerns in India and Diabetes prevalence has increased by 64 percent across India over the quarter-century. From 1990 to 2016 the number of diabetes cases in  India has increased by more than 123 percent.

On International Diabetes Day, the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas makes it clear that India needs to pause and re-evaluate its strategy to combat diabetes.

To combat this threat the International Diabetes Federation has encouraged the Indian government to develop and implement multi-sectoral strategies. Diabetes at its core is a lifestyle disease with multiple causes-

  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Sedentary lifestyle that is so prevalent in the modern age
  • Hereditary factors

The growth and dissemination of processed food, high in sugar and salt, easy to prepare and comparatively cheap has meant that people from all income brackets are affected by Diabetes. This was confirmed in a 2017 study conducted by lancet where it concluded that urban poor are just as prone to diabetes as wealthier communities. 

But unlike wealthier communities, the poor lack the awareness of diabetes symptoms, risk factors and the consequences of getting diabetes. As a result compared to their wealthier counterparts the poor have great difficulty in managing the disease. 

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report Diabetes if not managed properly will lead to India incurring enormous economic costs. The annual cost to treat diabetes is estimated to be around Rs 27,400 per capita, which if kept unchecked would reach an annual 1.95 lakh crore, which for comparison is over six times the 2018 health budget. 

Diabetes is not a problem in itself but rather a symptom of the poor lifestyle choices and genetic factors (Indians are generally more insulin resistant ). A solution to this problem requires a multi-sectoral approach where ‘lifestyle change’ and preventative healthcare is at the forefront.  While it would it be premature to call India the diabetes capital of the world, the country is staring down at a major health crisis in the coming years if it fails to contain this health problem.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *