The South Asian population, including Indians, have been showing symptoms of diabetes for at least 11,000 years now. Besides, the stature of this population began to reduce and since 7,000 years, has fallen by 8.5 cm among males and by 7.7 cm among females, a new study has found.
While India may be infamous for being the diabetes capital of the world, a joint study — undertaken by Pune-based Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Departments of Archaeology at University of Cambridge, UK, and Max Planck Institute, Germany — has traced origins of this disease to the Mesolithic period. That is the time when, according to researchers, the lean mass of the South Asian population began to dip, making their bodies more susceptible to type-2 diabetes in comparison to their western counterparts.
“Lower lean mass, as several studies have proven, is associated with poorer control of blood glucose and greater susceptibility to the condition (diabetes, in this case),” Emma Pomeroy from University of Cambridge, told The Indian Express, in an email reply.
Importantly, the study, titled ‘Ancient origins of low lean mass among South Asians and implications for modern type-2 diabetes susceptibility’ published in Nature Scientific Reports, also found that the South Asian population began growing shorter in height than the Europeans due to major dietary and environment changes which began to occur around 7,000 years ago.
“While the bone length to the joint areas were found to be proportionate among the South Asian population, what we found was that the length of some of the key bones, femur (thigh bone) and lower limbs began to reduce since the Mesolithic period,” said Veena Mushrif Tripathy from Deccan College and Post Graduate Research Institute.
Archaeologists believe that it was around the Mesolithic period, about 7,000 years ago, when humans were going through a transition from being hunter gatherers to cultivators.
“As man started cultivating and got deeply involved in agriculture activities, this population settled at one place in large numbers. This group eventually stopped migrating in lookout for food…It then resulted in the population to switch to consuming cultivated foods, that were richer in carbohydrates than proteins, which was in complete contrast to the hunter-gatherers ancestors,” explained Tripathy.
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