As many as 5000 school children from NCR participated in a ‘Diabetes Awareness Walk’ today to drive home the message that India needs to wake up to the threat of diabetes and get into the prevention mode to prevent it from turning into an epidemic.
The Walkathon came on the last day of the 41st National Annual Conference of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India that saw doctors across the board stress on the need for adopting preventive measures against the escalating menace of diabetes in the country and the world.
The three-day conference saw over 4000 delegates and experts on diabetes from across the world to discuss their latest observations and findings in the field at the India Expo Centre, Greater Noida.
Dressed up for a walk on the early morning on Sunday, a large number of school children participated in the Walkathon enthusiastically, with some carrying placards and messages of awareness.
Doctors say with 63 million diabetic patients and 80 million prediabetics who are at great risk of acquiring the ailment, India is sitting on a diabetes time bomb and needs urgent corrective measures — awareness is one of them.
“Genetic predisposition does increase the risk of diabetes in an individual. But, our lifestyle and dietary habits are something over which we do exercise control. In fact, change in dietary habits, and adoption of regular exercise in our regime can significantly cut the risk of diabetes. We need to spread this message across. Indians as a race have been found to be more prone to diabetes hence we need to strongly control the other contributing factors like sedentary habits and unhealthy food,” said Dr Rajeev Chawla, Organizing Secretary, RSSDI-2013, and Director, North Delhi Diabetes Centre.
‘Manual of Diabetes Care’, a comprehensive book on diabetes by Dr Rajeev Chawla was also released during the conference. The book sums up everything related to the ailment from its risk factors, to its supposed causes, to complications caused by it and prevention.
Doctors at the three-day conference paid special focus on prevention of diabetes, stressing that weight control and exercise were key to cutting the risk of developing diabetes, especially in prediabetics. Prediabetic is a stage when a person is not yet a diabetic but with glucose levels over 100, he or she is at a great risk of becoming a diabetic. The number of people in this group is huge in India – 77 million.
“We have as many as 77 million prediabetics, one third of whom may get converted to diabetes if preventive strategies are not implemented. We are sitting on a diabetes time bomb. We need an urgent awakening to prevent this from turning into a disastrous situation,” said Dr Chawla.
Doctors also spoke about the linkage between vitamin D deficiency and risk of diabetes. Increasingly studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin D put you at a greater risk of diabetes. Recent studies have also indicated that Indians are deficient in vitamin D.
“If young overweight people have vitamin D deficiency, there chances of becoming diabetic increase. Vitamin D deficiency also increases chances of Gestational diabetes, that is diabetes acquired during pregnancy. In urban centres of India, sun exposure is becoming minimal. Also, given our dressing styles, we Indians wear clothes that cover most of our bodies so that the area exposed to the sun is very small. Despite India being a sunshine rich country, adequate sun exposure is not there,” said Dr. B. M. Makkar, Director, Diabetes & Obesity Centre and Honorary Treasurer, RSSDI-2013.
The Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) is India’s premiere organization in diabetes research whose objective is to promote indigenous research in the country that will enable the medical fraternity devise solutions more indigenous to the country.
Doctors at the three-day conference also spoke of new paradigms in treatment and new emerging facets of the disease.