Diabetes cases spike among young Indians, lack of exercise, more junk food intake prime causes


More consumption of junk food, changing lifestyles coupled with lack of physical exercise have become major contributors to a significant surge in Type 2 diabetes cases among the younger generation, in India and across the globe during the last 10 years.

Ahead of World Diabetes Day, doctors warned that the trend poses substantial long-term health challenges involving other physiological functions like the cardiovascular system, and kidneys. World Diabetes Day is observed every year on November 14 to build awareness about the heightened blood sugar ailment.

A recent Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study showed that a tenth of all Indians have diabetes. The country is home to 101 million diabetics and 136 million pre-diabetic people. India, known as the diabetes capital of the world, has witnessed an increase in Type 2 diabetes prevalence among young adults. Studies indicate a steady surge in cases among those aged between 20-40 years.

“In young individuals, potential signs of Type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, excessive hunger, unexplained weight loss, chronic fatigue, blurred vision, slow wound healing, and recurring infections. These symptoms may indicate elevated blood sugar levels and should prompt medical evaluation. Early detection and management are vital to prevent complications associated with diabetes,” said Dr. Mohit Sharma, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Department of Endocrinology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad. He called for continued monitoring as many times, the symptoms tend to go unnoticed.

“The number of people suffering from diabetes is continuously increasing. Previously, we used to see diabetes only in the older population but currently, we are seeing increasing cases of diabetes in the younger population,” said Dr. Tushar Tayal, Lead Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram. “The main factor for developing diabetes presently is our lifestyle. Lifestyle, if we talk about it, there’s a lack of exercise, and then eating junk food and food which is rich in refined flour and refined sugar, and lots of trans fat.”

Type 2 diabetes significantly also impacts the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attacks, angina, sudden cardiac death, heart failure, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease. It can also hurt an individual’s kidneys. Younger individuals, especially women in some cases, often face a higher threat of falling prey to diabetes with a history of gestational diabetes and early puberty.

Ethnic and racial minorities, lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and exposure to urban environments also make for higher susceptibility rates, the doctors pointed out.

The health experts recommended a disciplined lifestyle to help overcome the risk factors. “Exercise for 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes of brisk cardio activity every day which can be cycling, jogging, running, swimming, brisk walking,” Dr Tayal said.

The experts also emphasized eating a healthy diet and avoiding refined flour, refined sugar, and trans fat.


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