India is facing a health epidemic with the rise in Type 2 diabetes. Compared to people in developed countries, the middle-class population in India faces a much higher risk of metabolic diseases with Type 2 diabetes as one of the most prevalent. Also Read - Second Wave Of COVID-19 in India, Experts Say Possibility of it Cannot Be Ruled Out in Winters
Type 2 diabetes—also known as Adult Onset diabetes—is a chronic condition that affects how someone’s body processes blood sugar. It occurs when someone’s body fails to produce insulin or resist insulin. Milder symptoms might include fatigue, frequent urination, increased thirst and blurred vision. Diabetes can cause many health complications far more serious, including blindness, the loss of limbs, heart disease, and even death. Also Read - Navratri 2020 Fasting Tips: How to Reduce Your Hunger Pangs While Fasting for Goddess Durga
Indians belonging to the middle class due to a period of economic prosperity have moved away from manual labor jobs. In a perfect world, this would be great news—but there’s a problem. Many of their ancestors were malnourished for many generations and to this day, the ancestral genetics lead their bodies to store fat in a more harmful way than people who are used to a “normal'” diet. Also Read - COVID-19 Vaccine Latest Updates: What's Happening in India, China, US, and Russia
Though the percentage of Indians with diabetes is still not as high as the rates of the United States, India still has the highest number of diabetics in the world, and it doesn’t look like the number isn’t going down anytime soon. It’s estimated that by the year 2030, India will have as many as 80 million citizens with diabetes.
With rising incomes and a more sedentary lifestyle, poorer Indians are developing these diseases as well. Perhaps due to novelty or convenience, many Indians are also turning to Western-style snack foods that are higher in sugar and fat. These foods are substantially less healthy than most Indians’ previous diet. Although rice and sweets aren’t the healthiest foods, they pale in comparison to processed snack foods.
Particularly worrisome is the fact that diabetes has also spread to rural areas. Some areas that didn’t have a single diabetic person twenty years ago now report 10% of their citizens have the disease. Both rural areas and large cities face a dire shortage of doctors and clinics they need to respond to this large-scale health crisis.
Diabetes is particularly hard on women in India because even if they are suffering from the disease, they are unable to give up their maternal “caretaker” roles. Inequities in India’s medical system also make it rare to detect diabetes before it takes hold.
It’s an unfortunate quagmire because the citizens of India who are now working more comfortable jobs don’t want to go back to performing manual labor. While the aversion to manual labor is completely understandable, the more sedentary people become—and the more they consume processed food—the more they will continue to be at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
While diabetes used to be a common disease among the middle-aged and elderly, India is seeing more and more teenagers developing this condition as well. India’s government has set aside a large budget to deal with non-communicable diseases—hopefully, their efforts prove helpful.