Archive for the ‘Health & Fitness’ Category

The NYT on diabetes in India

September 13, 2006

Today’s NYT has an elaborate frontpage article on diabetes in India betes.html?th&emc=th

from the article :

In its hushed but unrelenting manner, Type 2 diabetes is engulfing India, swallowing up the legs and jewels of those comfortable enough to put on weight in a country better known for famine. Here, juxtaposed alongside the stick-thin poverty, the malaria and the AIDS, the number of diabetics now totals around 35 million, and counting.

The future looks only more ominous as India hurtles into the present, modernizing and urbanizing at blinding speed. Even more of its 1.1 billion people seem destined to become heavier and more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar brought on by obesity, inactivity and genes, often culminating in blindness, amputations and heart failure. In 20 years, projections are that there may be a staggering 75 million Indian diabetics.

Indians are steadily forsaking paddy fields for a city lifestyle that entails less movement, more fattening foods and higher stress: a toxic brew for diabetes. In Chennai, about 16 percent of adults are thought to have the disease, one of India’s highest concentrations, more than the soaring levels in New York, and triple the rate two decades ago. Three local hospitals, quaintly known as the sugar hospitals, are devoted to the illness.

The traditional Indian diet can itself be generous with calories. But urban residents switch from ragi and fresh vegetables to fried fast food and processed goods. The pungent aromas of quick-food emporiums waft everywhere here: Sowbakiya Fast Food, Nic-Nac Fast Food, Pizza Hut. Coke and Pepsi are pervasive, but rarely their diet versions.

In Chennai, workers in the software industry rank among the envied elite. Doctors worry about their habits — tapping keys for exercise, ingesting junk food at the computer. Dr. C. R. Anand Moses, a local diabetologist, sees a steady parade of eager software professionals, devoured by diabetes. “They work impossible hours sitting still,” he said.

Though no universal cure exists for diabetes, “cures” and other mischievous medicines nonetheless abound in India. Much of the population gravitates to cryptic beliefs threaded with untruths that are hard to nullify.

People believe in bitter gourd juice and fenugreek, an Indian spice, which can temper sugar levels, but are not cures. Some years ago, the wood water cure gained considerable traction. Drink water stored overnight in a tumbler made of Pterocarpus marsupium heartwood, the promotion went, and it would wash away the diabetes.

The health minister, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, recently said he would begin a diabetes program, but the timetable and scope are unclear. Indian politicians in pursuit of votes rarely campaign on matters of health, but promise the poor cheap rice or free color televisions.

My friends/colleagues have it, my mom & dad have it & it is only a matter of time before it catches up with me. When I last tested, the postprandial sugar level – one taken 1-1/2 hours after food – was 121 which is as good as having it. So folks, please take note. Please exercise & do revisit your eating/working habits.

What the article missed is how this menace can be checked/prevented/postponed. Do post articles related to that please.

And here’s my prediction (unrelated to diabetes) : Outlook or India Today will be having a cover story on diabetes within the next 3 months.