The fourth edition of the World Diabetes Atlas, released in Montreal on Monday at the World Diabetes Congress, estimates that more number of people in India have diabetes than previously estimated.

India continues to be the “diabetes capital” of the world and by the year 2010 about 50.8 million people in the 20 to 79 age group in the country will have diabetes.

The atlas, released at the ongoing meeting organised by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), projects that by 2030 about 87 million people will have diabetes.

The third edition, released three years ago, estimated that by 2007 over 40 million people would have diabetes. By 2025 that figure was estimated to go up to 69 million.

The number of Indians with ‘pre-diabetic’ condition of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is also very high — about 39.5 million people will have IGT in 2010 and the number will be 64.1 million in 2030.

The figures are indicative of the large pool of susceptible subjects who have a high potential to turn diabetics in a short period, said A. Ramachandran of Dr. A. Ramachandran’s Diabetes Hospitals, India Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai, who is currently in Montreal. The source for these estimations is epidemiological studies from different parts of the country.

Dr. Ramachandran said that a primary prevention programme, as was being done in developed countries, was the best way to fight the epidemic. “In developed countries, they have used primary prevention in people with IGT and found that an almost seven per cent reduction in weight has meant 58 per cent reduction in the risk [of getting diabetes].”

An experimental study undertaken in India found that simple instructions such as advising people to walk, and sugar-free coffee/beverage had resulted in 29-30 per cent reduction in diabetes, Dr. Ramachandran said. A new research in Indian population, called the Indian Diabetes Prevention Programme, by him had shown the effectiveness of primary prevention strategies in preventing the onset of diabetes in people with high risk. It was also possible to identify those at high risk. These studies had reiterated that prevention of diabetes would prevent the burden due to its long-term complications. The figures were an indication that primary prevention was necessary and drastic steps must be taken to diagnose the disease early, provide effective management and also take steps to prevent the onset of disease in high-risk subjects.

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