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Indian J Med Res. 2007 Mar;125(3):217-30.

Epidemiology of type 2 diabetes: Indian scenario.

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  • 1Madras Diabetes Research Foundation & Dr Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai, India.


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. Even though the prevalence of microvascular complications of diabetes like retinopathy and nephropathy are comparatively lower in Indians, the prevalence of premature coronary artery disease is much higher in Indians compared to other ethnic groups. The most disturbing trend is the shift in age of onset of diabetes to a younger age in the recent years. This could have long lasting adverse effects on nation's health and economy. Early identification of at-risk individuals using simple screening tools like the Indian Diabetes Risk Score (IDRS) and appropriate lifestyle intervention would greatly help in preventing or postponing the onset of diabetes and thus reducing the burden on the community and the nation as a whole.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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