Survey finds Mumbai is India's diabetes capital. Experts decode what that means

Updated: Nov 20, 2017, 12:04 IST | Shraddha Uchil

A recent survey revealed that Mumbai is the diabetes capital of the country. Here's decoding what that means, and what you can do

A survey released on the eve of World Diabetes Day, which was on November 14, showed that Mumbai tops the country when it comes to the prevalence of diabetes. The survey was conducted by a pathology lab in eight cities across India, and it was found that 23.74 per cent of Mumbaikars tested had diabetes.

Make time in the day for exercise
Make time in the day for exercise

According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 69 million Indians suffer from diabetes, a disease that kills around 3.5 lakh people annually. This begs the question: what makes Mumbaikars more susceptible than those from other cities, and is there a way to keep the disease at bay?

The city's crazy pace is a cause for the high number of diabetics
The city's crazy pace is a cause for the high number of diabetics

Why Mumbai?
Dr Pradeep Gadge, a leading city diabetologist, says that there are several reasons why Mumbaikars are sitting ducks. "When there are so many people living and working in the city, you are faced with tremendous pressure. All that stress makes your cortisol levels shoot up. And cortisol is a diabetogenic hormone," he elaborates.

Chaitalee Kulkarni uses dance as exercise to keep her diabetes in control
Chaitalee Kulkarni uses dance as exercise to keep her diabetes in control

Stress isn't the only factor at play, though. According to Dr Gadge, Mumbaikars are sleeping less than they used to, and also leading sedentary lives.

"Youngsters today are glued to their phones, so they're not active. Mumbai might be the fastest city when it comes to work, but it is the slowest when it comes to staying fit," he says.

Throw in the fact that eating habits have changed drastically over the last two decades, thanks to the easy availability of fast food and more spending power, and you have all the causes for why inhabitants of maximum city are at maximum risk.

"The situation is so grave, that every month, I see at least one or two teenaged patients who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which was earlier common in adults. Many don't have a family history of the disease," says Dr Gadge.

Dr Pradeep Gadge
Dr Pradeep Gadge

Taking control
If you're among those who keep long hours at work, don't get much exercise, and have bad eating habits, you could start by making changes in your lifestyle. "Cut out all junk food. Limit foods that are high in sugar, and incorporate more high-fibre foods in your diet. Most importantly, don't skip meals. And if you're not active, start now. Urban professionals don't always have the time to go to the gym, but they could do something as simple as going on a brisk walk daily," advises Dr Gadge.

Twenty-six-year-old Chaitalee Kulkarni, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was three years old, has figured out ways to cope with the disease. "My colleagues know my condition, which means that if my blood sugar levels spike or drop suddenly, they understand that I need to take a break to recover," explains the HR professional. She adds, "However, if there's an important meeting, I take precautions. I might eat a date to keep my sugar levels in check."

While her job doesn't let her get much activity into her work schedule, she enjoys dancing. "In the morning, before work, I do Bharat-anatyam, and after work, I go for aerobics and Zumba. That's my exercise regime." If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, Kulkarni says there is no need to panic. "Take it one day at a time and find happiness in the healthy lifestyle you will start leading."

Staying fit at work
>> Even if you have a desk job, try and avoid sitting for too long. Take short breaks to go for a walk.

>> Another way to fit some activity into your work schedule is to keep the objects you need (staplers, notepad, etc) far away from you. That way, you're forced to get up from your seat and walk over to wherever the object is.

>> Whatever happens, don't skip any meals. It wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels. Carry a tiffin to work, and make sure you're having small but frequent meals through the day.

Numbers game
Dr Gadge's team conducted a survey in September 2016, where they screened 1,500 people at six spots in Borivali and Kandivali, including railway stations and parks. Seventy two per cent of those screened were men, and 28 per cent were women, and everyone was between the ages of 20 and 80. Of those who were tested, 20.6 per cent were found to have diabetes.

"Over half of this number, turns out, had uncontrolled diabetes. In fact, many didn't even know they had the disease, because the symptoms don't always show," says Dr Gadge, adding, "Nearly 250 of those with uncontrolled diabetes were under 40, which shows how our fast-paced lifestyle's demands have ended up affecting us."


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