Close to a quarter of Chennai’s population over the age of 20 has diabetes, and 38 per cent of people in the city over the age of 40 have the disease, a recent study reveals. The study also indicates that in the 45-plus age group, over 70 per cent has dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes).
The yet-to-be published CARRS (Center for Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction in South Asia) study was conducted by the Madras Diabetic Research Foundation (MDRF), in collaboration with Emory University in the U.S., the Public Health Foundation of India, the All India Institute of Medical Research in New Delhi, and the Aga Khan Foundation in Karachi.
The CARRS study is being conducted in Chennai, New Delhi and Karachi. “The current results are from the first phase of the project that involved 4,000 people in each city. The second phase of the project is nearing completion,” said V. Mohan, chairman and chief diabetologist of Dr. Mohan’s Specialities Centre, who was part of the study, speaking to the press here on Monday.
“In 1972, the prevalence of diabetes was between 2 and 3 per cent in urban areas and 1.5 per cent in rural areas. In just over 40 years, it has increased ten-fold,” he said.
When the study’s data was compared to another study (the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America study), conducted in San Francisco among Indians living in the U.S., the prevalence of diabetes of people living in India was found to be higher, Dr. Mohan said. In the past, prevalence of diabetes amongst Indians living abroad was much higher than the prevalence in India; this trend is also changing.
“This means the conversion from pre-diabetes to diabetes in India is higher, indicating a need for lifestyle modifications,” Dr. Mohan said. He added genetic factors alone can’t explain this increased prevalence. “Lifestyle factors are a major contributor too,” he said.
R.M. Anjana, joint managing director, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, said a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributing factor towards the increased prevalence. “Data from the ICMR’s INDIAB study indicates that a majority of people in the country lead sedentary lifestyles. In people who have very active lifestyles, the chance of getting diabetes is much lower than in those who lead sedentary lives,” she said.