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Updated: September 30, 2011 14:55 IST

ICMR-INDIAB study provides new figures for diabetes

Special Correspondent
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62.4 million lives with diabetes in India, 77.2 million people with pre-diabetes

New figures for diabetes prevalence in India indicate that the epidemic is progressing rapidly across the nation, reaching a total of 62.4 million persons with diabetes in 2011.

Phase one results of the Indian Council of Medical Research – India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) Study have provided data from three States and one Union Territory, representing nearly 18.1 per cent of the nation's population.

When extrapolated from these four units, the conclusion is 62.4 million people live with diabetes in India, and 77.2 million people are on the threshold, with pre-diabetes.

These results have been published in an article authored by R.M. Anjana et al, published in the current issue of Diabetologia.

“This is the first truly national diabetes study done in India in the last 40 years after the last ICMR Study in the early 1970s,” explained V. Mohan, who heads Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, the national co-ordinator for the study.

‘Authentic new data'

The first phase of the ICMR-INDIAB study covered Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chandigarh, with a sample size of 16,000 persons.

“The results are amazing and provide evidence for increase in prevalence of diabetes not only in urban areas but also in rural areas. The study also provides authentic new data on the total number of people with diabetes in India,” Dr. Mohan added.

The study began in late 2008 and was completed by 2010. It factored in anthropometric parameters like body weight, BMI (body mass index), height and waist circumference, and also tested fasting blood sugar, followed by blood sugar after a glucose load (known diabetics exempted), and cholesterol for all participants.

Questions were also asked about food habits, physical activity, and smoking, alcohol usage, among others.

The prevalence of diabetes in Tamil Nadu was 10.4 per cent, in Maharashtra it was 8.4 per cent, in Jharkhand, 5.3 per cent, and in terms of percentage, highest in Chandigarh at 13.6.

The prevalence of pre-diabetes (impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance) was 8.3 per cent, 12.8 per cent, 8.1 per cent, and 14.6 per cent, respectively.

Projections to be revised

Projections made in the past about the total number of diabetics in the country for the future may need to be revised. For instance, in May 2004, in Diabetes Care, volume 27, Sarah Wild et al proposed that India would have 79.4 million people with diabetes in 2030.

Nineteen years ahead of that deadline, India has 62.4 million, and a further 77.2 million (potential diabetics) in the pre-diabetes stage.

“According to the Diabetes Atlas of 2009, there were 50.8 million people with diabetes in India. In just two years, this figure has gone up by 12 million. Obviously, diabetes in India is progressing exponentially. Also, we see that it has shifted to the 25-34 years age group,” Dr. Mohan explained.

“The epidemic is likely to stabilise in the population at about 20-25 per cent or so. The numbers of pre-diabetics will drop. We also expect that by then, the epidemic will shift to the economically disadvantaged groups, going by the experience of nations in the West,” Dr. Mohan added. Also, he explained that there was a huge window of opportunity for prevention, considering the number of modifiable risk factors among the pre-diabetes group.

The three-phased study, when concluded, hopes to have done similar analyses for all the States and union territories in India.


Diabetes alarmSeptember 30, 2011

The diabetes prevention has to be done by the government. Probably increasing the petrol price significantly so that forcing people to ride in a bicycle will definitely have a great impact in preventing diabetes but no politicians will do that. I am not sure whether decreasing sugar supply for the poor people who already has caloric deficiency is the right thing to do.If we can tax for all the junk and fatty foods that can have an impact.We can tax the people for being obese and spend that money for providing food to the poor people who can't afford to eat 2 square meals.All the electronics equipment which discourages physical activity can be made luxurious.But to be honest,proactive approach by the individuals themselves is the right way of implementing diabetes pevention in a democratic country. So government needs to include the diabetes prevention measures in the school curriculum and people should make their own choice.

from:  R.Manivarmane
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 14:34 IST

For a start can the government stop giving cheap sugar through the PDS? It will immediately bring down consumption, specially among the poor. Govt can compensate by giving more pulses as in Tamil Nadu or 'coarse grains' like millets (ragi, barjra, jowar) which are much healthier.

from:  Vichitra PK
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 16:06 IST

Non communicable chronic diseases in India are like Tsunami. Major public health effort is required to lower this burden. Social behaviour modification and life style must be abig factor, Diet and excersie, In diet it all about calorific intake. We are making an effort in South Asian population of British Columbia , canada (

from:  Arun Garg
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 02:18 IST

Let me first tell you that i am not a medical professional to comment on this subject. but at the same time I wonder what this statistic all about & with what base it is been compared with. In general India is leading producer of Sugar & consume large amount of sugar too.You cannot compare our sugar intake with others as standard as many of the readers' point of view.
I think we should make (5 or 6 zones) Indian standard based on average persons' sugar level at random sample & make it the corrective action. My father is at 98 who is considered by local doctors as a border line diabetic is tells us to take sugar for instant energy.

from:  a s mohan
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 02:04 IST

The increasing diabetes prevalence in India is a direct result of economic growth. For thousands of years Indian population was living in calories debt rather than abundant and surplus food. Hence it is inevitable that the more affordability in terms of food, modern technology would invariably leave us as the diabetic country in the world(25% of the population is going to be diabetic is alarming). So far in many of the scientific research we haven't found increased genetic predisposition for Indians. However it needs further research and clarification.I don't think that whatever the reason given by Kalyan may contribute to diabetic incidence, but one has to have a open mind. ( It's more likely the new chemicals increase the risk of cancer).But I always wonder whether simply because we are living longer than our ancesotrs ( The average human life span until 3 centuries ago was only 35 years, except in Indian mythology)and scientific discoveries have led to more diseases being diagnosed.

from:  R.Manivarmane
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 15:37 IST

This is the one single entity due to which many people across the globe are suffering alike . Also the numbers on the pre-diabetic's is alarming . Even those who are taking healthy food now-a-days are also getting pre-diabetic due to various reasons like sedentary life style , corrupted and impure food and gross neglect.Apples are waxed to look fresh , oranges and bananas etcc are artifically ripened using pesticides etc ..,pulses are mixed with other same-looking poisonous things ,land is loosing its fertility , food is loosing its vigour and at the end of the day how much we take care in food we are ending up eating impure food , there by leading to pre-diabetic stage. This is a vicious circle.

from:  Kalyan
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 11:10 IST

I searched for the article with great interest online on the Diabetologia website, but couldn't find it in the current issue or in the articles available before print publication. Neverthless, very important issue and thanks to The Hindu for giving us a sneak preview. Regards

from:  Dr Anand Lakshman
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 10:57 IST

In 11 years almost double the number of diabetics in India is quite alarming. In the survey, the number of times eating junk food or outside home is to be included which constitutes a principal cause for the onset of diabetics. Also we need to figure out how much fruits and vegetable sales have increased over this period. It is believed rice starch is a major instigator for the diabetes but if you look into the largely rice eating countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and mainly China have the incidence of the diabetes far less from India. Another biological factor is the emotions and bursting out for triflings which are typical of Indians while the nations mentioned do not bother much about anything. Working longer hours is the pride of Indians, oblivious of the physical activity relative to the intake of food, which is also not timely. Let us survey the world where the diabetes is less preavalent and pick up their habits in all aspects including the food.

from:  Chandramohan
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 05:33 IST
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