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Gujarat’s sweet toothache: Highest incidence of diabetes in the county

As per the health profile report, the number of diabetic persons in Gujarat stands at 1,61,578 which is 20.5 per cent of the total 7,87,435 population screened.

Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad |
Updated: October 7, 2016 5:02:45 pm
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That Gujarat pips all other states with the highest number of diabetes and hypertension cases as reported in the recent National Health Profile 2015 by Central Bureau of Health Intelligence under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, rarely comes as a shock to people in a state known for its sweet tooth. The fact that there is a long festival season that stretches from Shravanin July-August to Holi in March with Janmashtami, Dusshera, Diwali and Uttarayan in between, makes the problem even more acute.

Health experts attribute three primary reasons for the state recording the highest number of diabetes cases in the country: Gujaratis’ penchant for adding sugar to almost all food items over and above sweets that are also an integral part of the daily diet; the professional lifestyle of a population employed largely in business concerns leading to physical inactivity and thirdly obesity. “Sugar is added to almost all the food items in addition to sweets and desserts. Not only sugar, but a fatty laden diet with oil and ghee is another weakness among Gujaratis,” explained Dr Jaydip Oza, the state diabetes programme officer.

As per the health profile report, the number of diabetic persons in Gujarat stands at 1,61,578 which is 20.5 per cent of the total 7,87,435 population screened. Along with diabetes, hypertension, too, has the highest number of cases reported from Gujarat. With 1,59,150, cases, hypertension also records an equal percentage of 20.2 per cent cases out of the total population screened.

State authorities claim that Gujarat recording the highest number of diabetes cases could be the result of 100 per cent reporting to the central bureau under an online report launched by the health department.

However, other studies have too confirmed a higher prevalence of diabetes in Gujarat. As per World Diabetes Federation, nearly 4 crore people in India suffer from diabetes. Out of this, 8 to 10 per cent suspected cases of diabetes are in Gujarat. Nearly 10 per cent cases are of type I diabetes or juvenile diabetes and remaining 90 per cent type II diabetes.

Dr Oza, a diabetes expert, said that physical inactivity among Gujaratis is the second major reason for this lifestyle disease. “Owing to the business being the professional choice of a majority of the population, people do not have much physical activity leading to a sedentary lifestyle,” he said.

The third important reason related to the above two is obesity. A sedentary lifestyle and rich food habits lead to obesity, which is another common cause of diabetes among people.

Owing to the gravity of the situation, the state government has recently launched a screening programme for diabetes aiming at screening of 2 crore population above 30 years of age out of a total of 6 crore in the state. Under this, nearly 10,000 screening and detection centres across the state for diabetes have been operational since June 1, this year. Further, over 300 Community Health Centres (CHC) and 308 Urban Health Centres (UHC) have been roped in under this campaign.

So far, over 12 lakh have been screened while another 35 lakh have already been screened under the ongoing diabetes programme. “The data so far reveals that out of a total estimated population of 2 crore in Gujarat, nearly 9-10 per cent are suffering from diabetes,” revealed a senior official of the health department. The number is expected to rise over the years.

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