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Prevalence of Diabetes: Are we heading towards a catastrophe

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By: Farhana Shafi

The next big disaster that is going to hit the population of Kashmir is Diabetes and if we aren’t serious about it, we should read the latest study conducted by Government Medical College Srinagar’s Department of Community Medicine titled “Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Adult Population of District Srinagar” which suggests that one out of every ten residents of Srinagar aged over 20 years has diabetes.   The study also projects that 22 percent of the Srinagar population suffers from impaired fasting glucose which is medically known as ’Ppre-Diabetes’.

While we may need similar studies in districts and towns to arrive at the best possible health indicators with regards to prevalence of Diabetes, the need is to get serious about the issue and start behavioral changes and health style modifications to avert this tragedy if we can!

Conforming to WHO, Diabetes has set foot in the top ten leading causes of death across the globe. Besides it is the main cause of kidney failure, adult blindness and lower limb amputations.

Diabetes is a chronic disease whereby body experiences an increased blood glucose level, a condition medically termed as Hyperglycemia. This defect comes to light when Pancreas either do not produce enough insulin or when body can’t effectively use insulin that it produces. Insulin is a hormone produced by our Pancreas and plays a key role in maintaining the normal blood glucose concentration in our body.

The global prevalence of diabetes has been estimated to expand from 4% in 1995 to 5.4% in 2025.India lies at 2nd position among the top 10 countries in the world with an approximation of 77 million diabetics, China being the first with a total of about 116 million diabetics. Besides this One among the six diabetics across the globe is an Indian. As more than 77 million adults are living with diabetes in India, the researchers are predicting this will increase up to 134 million by about 2045.

Due to the continuous upsurge of this illness India has been declared as the DIABETIC CAPITAL of the world and as per a 2021 review people inhabiting cities and metropolitan areas in India are more prone to develop diabetes. Overall females have higher risk of developing this disorder as compare to males. As far as our J&K is concerned 8.9% of its population is suffering from diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes constituting about 90% of the diabetic patients and if left untreated can lead to severe complications like retinopathy(eye), coronary heart disease, neuropathy(brain) and nephropathy(kidney).  It’s a lifelong defect with increased co-morbidities and mortality and also comprises the quality of life. This disease and allied complications also cause heavy economic burdens on diabetic patients. Rising prevalence of diabetes is driven by a combination of factors like rapid urbanization, unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco use and increased life expectancy. Moreover, obesity and overweight are the most important risk factors responsible for diabetes. Stress is also considered a contributing factor for developing diabetes.

Much of the diabetes burden can be prevented or delayed by behavioral changes. Regular physical activity, following a very low carb & healthy diet, preferring healthy fats, skipping fad diets, losing extra weight, quitting smoking, avoiding sedentary behaviour   are few crucial preventive measures against diabetes, as prevention is key to the problem. A proper treatment after detection can further prevent it. Raising awareness and educating people about the prevalence of diabetes, its symptoms, risk factors and treatment options can also help people to prevent or delay serious health complications. Appropriate strategic healthcare planning and national diabetes prevention programs could be pursued to avert this disease. Keep learning about diabetes. Prevention is better than cure.

The writer is a Research scholar, Department of Zoology, University of Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected]

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