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NEW DELHI : Prevalence of diabetes was over two times higher in urban India when compared to rural areas, and is more prevalent among women than men, according to the National Non-Communicable Disease Monitoring Survey.

According to the report, in urban areas, prevalence of diabetes was at 14.3%, compared with 6.9% in rural areas, and was higher among women (10.2%) than men (8.5%). Out of this a majority of women (6%) were diagnosed recently.

A cross sectional survey was conducted by the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research in 2017-18 on a sample size of 12,000 adults in the age group of 18-69 years. Of these 9,721 adults were surveyed for diabetes.

The survey said 44.2% of adults with high cholesterol levels and 16.3% with hypertension suffered from diabetes. The findings of the survey was published in an international medical journal, Frontier in Public Health.

The findings assume significance considering that diabetes is a rapidly growing health challenge in low- and middle-income countries like India.

According to the Journal of Diabetes, India will have 69.9 million diabetics by 2025.

“The survey was done to determine the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of diabetes mellitus and associated factors among adults in India. When we compared urban and rural India, the prevalence of diabetes was two times higher than in rural areas. However, poor awareness and treatment among rural adults than urban counterparts are worrisome as levels of awareness are still low in India," said Dr. Prasant Mathur, lead author of the survey.

Out of the 9,721-sample surveyed, 904 (9.3%) were found to have diabetes based on their fasting blood glucose tests and self-reported history of diabetes. Out of them, 414 (45.8%) were aware of their diabetes status. While 326 (36.1%) were undergoing treatment for diabetes, 142 (15.7%) had their diabetes under control.

Diabetes is primarily driven by dietary transitions, with a lack of or insufficient physical activity further leading to obesity and overweight, said Mathur.

“More than three-fourths of adults in India sought treatment for diabetes from allopathic practitioners. Higher proportions of rural residents (24.6%) sought consultation from AYUSH systems," the report said.

Experts said diabetes is spreading like common flu and is reaching epidemic proportions. “We are failing to understand the ultimate risk of being a diabetic, which ruins the function of all body organs, primarily kidney, heart, nervous system and eyes. It is already on its way to becoming an epidemic in middle-income countries where people know the disease but do not understand the seriousness of the consequences. Because of unhealthy eating habits, there is no age group left with zero risk of having diabetes. Recently we have noticed that prevalence of Type2 diabetes and obesity is increasing in school-going children and young adults," said Dr. Sandeep Kharb, senior consultant at the endocrinology department of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Diabetes requires sustained treatment and awareness for prevention of complications. By 2025, the ministry of health and family welfare seeks to contain the rise in diabetes and premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 25%

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