Huge increase in cases of diabetes in rural T.N.

In a span of 14 years, prevalence of diabetes in rural settings in Tamil Nadu has increased from 4.9% in 2006 to 13.5% now, a study has found. TREND, a rural diabetes project, that is covering 15,000 adults in 25 villages of Cheyyur taluk has put the prevalence at 13.5% (9.8% self-reported diabetics and 3.7% newly detected diabetics) and pre-diabetes at 18.2%.

In fact, 45% of them were overweight or obese, with a mean Body Mass Index of 25 kg/m2, according to V. Mohan, chairman and chief diabetologist, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre and director, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF).

MDRF and University of Dundee, Scotland, have taken up a joint research, of which TREND (Telemedicine Project for Screening Diabetes and its complications in rural TN) was a component. Citing the 2006 rural diabetes prevention project at Chunampet he said then the diabetes prevalence was 4.9% and pre-diabetes was 14.6%. This was followed by ICMR-India Diabetes study in 2011 that put the prevalence in rural Tamil Nadu at 7.8% and pre-diabetes at 15%.

The latest study has shown a huge increase in both diabetes and pre-diabetes, while obesity has also increased, he said. “One in three persons in rural TN has diabetes or is in the pre-diabetes stage. Why is there an increase in diabetes among the rural population? People are getting fatter and lack exercise. They are eating too much rice, with no vegetables or fruits,” he said.

“Next, we will be providing diabetic care. We are developing an application through which we can send messages on their mobile phones to keep track of their blood sugar levels,” he said.

As a part of India-Scotland Partnership for Precision Medicine in Diabetes project, the two institutions were capturing retinal images of these persons to explore the possibility of predicting the future risk of diabetic complications, heart diseases, stroke and dementia. Using a low-cost camera that was made in India, they were capturing retinal images and studying it using a special software - Vessel Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina, he said.

Colin NA Palmer, associate dean, research and chair of pharmacogenomics, School of Medicine, University of Dundee, said diabetes was quite different in the two countries. “Indians are much more susceptible to diabetes. The real problem is young persons getting type 2 diabetes whereas in Scotland, people do not get diabetes until the age of 60,” he said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 12:11:07 PM |

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