New Delhi: With a genetic predisposition brought to the fore by changing lifestyles, deaths due to diabetes increased 50 per cent in India between 2005 and 2015, and is now the seventh-most common cause of death in the country, up from 11th rank in 2005, according to data published by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD).
Ischemic heart disease continues to be the highest cause of death, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cerebrovascular disease, lower respiratory infection, diarrhoeal diseases and tuberculosis.
In 2015, 346,000 people died of diabetes, which caused 3.3 per cent of all deaths that year, with an annual increase of 2.7 per cent from 1990, according to the GBD study.
Nearly 26 people die of diabetes per 100,000 population; diabetes is also one of the top causes of disability and accounts for 2.4 per cent of the disability-adjusted life-years lost (sum of years lost due to disability or premature death due to the disease).
There are 69.1 million people with diabetes in India, the second-highest number in the world after China, which has 109 million people with diabetes. Of these, 36 million cases remain undiagnosed, according to a 2015 Diabetes Atlas released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Nearly nine per cent in the age group of 20-79 have diabetes.
The figures are alarming since diabetes is a chronic disease that not just affects the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin but impacts the entire body. Complications caused due to diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss and neuropathy or nerve damage leading to leg amputation.
“Diabetes strikes Indians a decade earlier than the world,” Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, New Delhi, told IndiaSpend. “This causes reduced productivity, increased absenteeism in working population and gives more time for complications to arise.”
Indians are especially predisposed to diabetes due to social and genetic reasons. Peculiar genetic composition of Indians known as “Asian Indian Phenotype” makes them appear thin but with fat depositions around their internal organs. It makes them prone to greater abdominal fat, insulin resistance, higher levels of bad fat and increased chances of suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease.