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Unhealthy Nation

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Type 2 diabetes map of India

Map of the prevelance of type 2 diabetes in India

There was much consternation in the media recently about the fact that 10% of the population of Tamil Nadu are diabetic. The ICMR published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2007 starts by saying:

India leads the world with largest number of diabetic subjects earning the dubious distinction of being termed the “diabetes capital of the world”. According to the Diabetes Atlas 2006 published by the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with diabetes in India currently around 40.9 million is expected to rise to 69.9 million by 2025 unless urgent preventive steps are taken. The so called “Asian Indian Phenotype” refers to certain unique clinical and biochemical abnormalities in Indians which include increased insulin resistance, greater abdominal adiposity i.e., higher waist circumference despite lower body mass index, lower adiponectin and higher high sensitive C-reactive protein levels. This phenotype makes Asian Indians more prone to diabetes and premature coronary artery disease. At least a part of this is due to genetic factors. However, the primary driver of the epidemic of diabetes is the rapid epidemiological transition associated with changes in dietary patterns and decreased physical activity as evident from the higher prevalence of diabetes in the urban population.

TOI reported today on one life-style deficency:

The unhealthy habit of pre-dinner snacking is the main culprit behind late dinners.

In most metros, six out of 10 children surveyed binged on snacks almost everyday between 6 and 8pm. Kolkata led the pre-dinner snacking bratpack, with Delhi and Chennai following suit. Parents are not only failing to curb snack attacks, but mothers and fathers in most cities are also guilty of indulging in pre-dinner snacking, according to the survey conducted by A C Nielsen.

According to Delhi-based nutritionist Ishi Khosla, pre-dinner snacking is a counter-productive habit. People invariable eat unhealthy pre-packaged foodstuff that leads to obesity, hypertension, hormonal imbalance, etc in young children. People have to learn to keep high fats, high sugar and high glycemic index foods out of their diets, she added.

In spite of this, the Indian media is full of wrong advice on “healthy eating”: most of the articles advise one to cut down on cholesterol and increase carbohydrate intake. I don’t know whether this is correct for any population, but it is certainly disastrous for India. Advise to eat idli and dosa, or a lot of fruits or fruit juices, are entirely misplaced in this context. Note especially the fact that the four southern states have the highest prevelance of diabetes. The relative lack of fresh vegetables in the diet in these states could have something to do with it.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 19, 2010 at 6:12 am

Posted in health, India, science

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] below the middle class health indices are appalling. While obesity and diabetes are rampant in the urban India, the mean body mass index (BMI) remains among the worst in the world (even Haiti has higher mean […]

  2. […] is experiencing an epidemic of lifestyle diseases, arising partially out of a lack of information. So any news about issues of nutrition is welcome. […]


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