From yoga and fenugreek powder to mobile messaging, diabetes experts in India are searching for local and cost-effective methods to fend off the disease as it affects ever more numbers of people in the country.
India is home to more than 60 million diabetics, a number that the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) estimates will cross 85 million in 2030, or nearly 8 percent of the country’s population today.
Among the reasons for the rising number of cases is an increasing tendency toward sedentary lifestyles that have accompanied growing economic prosperity, as well as genetic predispositions in a country already known for its sweet tooth. Doctors told India Insight that in 1975 — when India’s GDP was around $100 billion — only about 1.5 percent of its population had diabetes. Today’s percentage is more in line with developed nations such as the United States at 8.3 percent and France at 5 percent.
While experts say initiatives such as promoting physical fitness, healthy eating and restricting sales of junk food and cola near schools help prevent diabetes, some doctors in India are hunting for remedies that they think are better suited to that country.
“We need local solutions, which are acceptable to people, which are also cost-effective,” said Anoop Misra of the Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases & Endocrinology.