Every year on November 14, World Diabetes Day (WDD) is observed to raise awareness about the widespread health condition impacting millions globally. This global observance day seeks to spotlight and endorse all initiatives dedicated to managing and preventing diabetes.
Diabetes occurs when the body faces challenges in regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can happen due to either insufficient production of insulin (a hormone that helps cells absorb glucose) or due to the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Genetic factors, lifestyle choices, and environmental influences can contribute to the development of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is often linked to genetic predisposition, while Type 2 diabetes is influenced by factors, such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and poor diet. Other forms of diabetes may result from specific health conditions or medications.
Says Madhumathi Ramakrishnan, senior vice-president, Star Health and Allied Insurance Company: “India is consistently retaining its position as the global capital for diabetes with an ever-increasing incidence of diabetes and its related complications. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease with long-term implications and multi-systemic complications, which require a holistic treatment. Managing and treating diabetes-related complications can be expensive, especially during hospitalisations. This can put a strain on an individual’s personal finances.”
The focus of World Diabetes Day 2023 will be on ‘Access To Diabetes Care’, and highlight the significance of ensuring equal availability of essential care and treatment for individuals with diabetes.
In India, the most common types of diabetes are Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes: This is the predominant form of diabetes in India and is often associated with lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Genetic factors also play a role. In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.
Gestational Diabetes: This type occurs during pregnancy and is characterised by high blood sugar levels. It increases the risk for both the mother as well as the child, as the child could develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is common in India, and factors such as maternal age, obesity, and a family history of diabetes can contribute to its occurrence.
Type 1 Diabetes: While less common than Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes also occurs in India. It is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This type often manifests in childhood or adolescence.
The most common causes of diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, include a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Here are some key contributors.
Genetic Predisposition: Individuals with a family history of diabetes have a higher risk of developing the condition. Genetic factors can influence insulin resistance and the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin.
Unhealthy Diet: Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats contribute to obesity and insulin resistance. Traditional diets rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are being replaced by more processed and high-calorie foods, contributing to the rise in diabetes.
Lack Of Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles and a lack of regular physical activity are significant factors in the development of diabetes. Physical inactivity contributes to weight gain and insulin resistance.
Obesity: The prevalence of obesity is increasing in India, and excess body weight is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Abdominal obesity, in particular, is strongly associated with insulin resistance.
Urbanisation: Rapid urbanisation in India has led to lifestyle changes, including a shift to more sedentary jobs, increased reliance on cars, and the availability of processed foods. These changes contribute to a higher risk of diabetes.
Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to the development of diabetes by affecting insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Urban living and the demands of modern life can contribute to increased stress levels.
Age: The risk of diabetes increases with age, and the aging population in India is a contributing factor to the rising prevalence of diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes: Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. The increasing incidence of gestational diabetes in India contributes to the overall diabetes burden.
Efforts to address these factors include promoting healthier lifestyles, raising awareness about diabetes prevention, and improving access to healthcare for early detection and management.
Managing diabetes involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication adherence, and regular monitoring. Here are some precautions for individuals with diabetes:
Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Regularly check blood sugar levels as advised by your healthcare provider. This helps in understanding how your body responds to food, activity, and medications.
Healthy Diet: Follow a balanced and nutritious diet. Monitor carbohydrate intake, choose whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary and processed foods.
Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise helps control blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and promotes overall well-being. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.
Medication Adherence: Take prescribed medications as directed by your healthcare provider. Consistent adherence to medication is crucial for managing blood sugar levels effectively.
Weight Management: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss, if needed, can improve insulin sensitivity and overall diabetes management.
Regular Health Check-Ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare team to monitor your diabetes and address any potential complications. This includes eye exams, foot checks, and kidney function tests.
Foot Care: Diabetes can affect circulation and nerve function in the feet. Practice good foot hygiene, wear comfortable shoes, and inspect your feet regularly for any cuts, sores, or signs of infection.
Stress Management: Chronic stress can affect blood sugar levels. Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
Limit Alcohol Intake: If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Alcohol can affect blood sugar levels and may interact with diabetes medications.
Quit Smoking: Smoking can contribute to complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease and circulation problems. Quitting smoking is beneficial for overall health.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, which is important for overall health and helps in managing blood sugar levels.
Educate Yourself: Learn about diabetes and its management. Understanding your condition empowers you to make informed decisions about your health.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet, exercise routine, or medication regimen. Personalised advice is essential for effective diabetes management.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is observed on November 14 each year and holds historical and significant importance in raising awareness about diabetes. World Diabetes Day was introduced by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991, in response to the escalating prevalence of diabetes worldwide.
November 14 was chosen to mark the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, a Canadian scientist who, along with Charles Best, played a key role in the discovery of insulin in 1921. The first World Diabetes Day was observed in 1991, and it became an official United Nations Day in 2007.
Raise Awareness: WDD aims to increase global awareness about diabetes, its risk factors, prevention, and management. It serves as a platform to educate the public and reduce the stigma associated with the condition.
Advocate For Diabetes Issues: The day provides an opportunity for individuals, healthcare professionals, and organisations to advocate for better policies, healthcare services, and resources to address the challenges posed by diabetes.
Support For Diabetes Care: WDD encourages support for people living with diabetes and their families. It emphasises the importance of access to affordable and quality healthcare, medications, and technologies for diabetes management.
Global Collaboration: The day fosters international collaboration in the fight against diabetes. Governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), healthcare providers, and the general public come together to work towards preventing and controlling diabetes on a global scale.
Highlight The Impact: WDD highlights the impact of diabetes on individuals, families, and communities. It emphasises the need for early detection, diagnosis, and effective management to prevent complications.
Promote Healthy Lifestyles: The day promotes the adoption of healthy lifestyles, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and weight management, to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Celebrate Achievements: WDD is also a time to celebrate the achievements and advancements in diabetes research, treatment, and care. It acknowledges the progress made and encourages continued efforts to improve the lives of those affected by diabetes.
World Diabetes Day serves as a global platform to raise awareness, advocate for better healthcare, and promote positive lifestyle choices to prevent and manage diabetes. It plays a crucial role in addressing the increasing prevalence of diabetes and its impact on public health.