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Sedentary lifestyle, westernised diet are the reasons for India’s increasing number of diabetics

Dr. Sachin Mittal

Diabetes, a chronic disease due to elevated blood glucose level, affects millions of people worldwide. As per International Diabetes Federation, 537million adults worldwide and 77 million in India are living with diabetes. As per the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s National Diabetes Survey, nearly 11.8 per cent adults have diabetes.

North India seems to have higher numbers with Chandigarh having 13.6 per cent as per the Indian Council of Medical Research—India Diabetes Study.

Diabetes is mainly of two types. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with insulin resistance and obesity making up the majority.

Unhealthy lifestyle pattern and lack of physical activity increase the chances of development of type 2 diabetes. These alongside mental stress often trigger the onset of diabetes, especially in those who have a family history or obesity.

Double whammy

The combination of diabetes and obesity or “Diabesity” is especially problematic. It is well-known that both diabetes and obesity increase the risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease along with various other complications. So, when a person has both, the risk gets magnified manifold. This is especially concerning considering that we are known to have a “Thin Fat Indian” type of body composition, which states that even at normal weight there is more metabolically unhealthy type of body fat, thus putting us at higher risk of these unwanted complications.

The root cause

So, what is fuelling this situation? Well, the answer is sedentary lifestyle, westernised diet and rapid urbanisation.

Even kids are seen more in front of mobile phone screens rather than in the playground. Despite availability of fitness trackers and facilities, the overall physical activity has actually gone down. This, alongside consumption of calorie dense but nutritionally deprived fast food, has led to more people developing obesity as well as diabetes at a younger age. This puts a lot of burden on the healthcare system .

What can we do?

Lifestyle choices do matter when it comes to managing diabetes. These include proper choices in our day-to-day eating, regular exercise, stress management and proper sleep. All these things done in a balanced and timely manner can go a long way to prevent any complications. Sharing with you few important modifications for a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat plenty of fibre in your diet in the form of green vegetables, salads and seeds. It minimises sugar spikes, is good for our heart and cholesterol. Choose full fruit instead of juice.
  • No processed or packaged food as they tend to have higher quantities of salt, unhealthy trans fats besides preservatives.
  • No refined flour. Refined carbohydrates as found in white bread, pastas, cookies etc have their nutritious and fibrous part removed and cause an increase in blood sugar. Prefer whole grains, unrefined complex carbohydrates, which help manage diabetes.
  • No extreme diets, crash diets or midnight binge. People lose weight initially on crash diets or extreme diets, but it all goes haywire, the moment they go off track. Avoid any middle of the night refrigerator raids.
  • About 45 minutes of brisk walk at least five days in a week goes a long way to keep us healthy. Remember sitting is the new smoking. So walk.
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