According to International Diabetes Federation, there were over 72 million cases of diabetes in India in 2017. The number of Indians suffering from this malicious disease is expected to cross the 100 million mark by 2030. A large part of this epidemic spreading so rampantly can be attributed to the rising obesity.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital along with Motilal Nehru Medical College of Allahabad, has recently discovered a “simple and cost-effective screening tool” to identify people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.
According to the study, “Big tummy with thin thighs is equal to high risk of diabetes and slim tummy with big thighs is equal to low risk of diabetes.”
Why do big thighs protect one from diabetes and not a big tummy?
The fat on the thighs called the subcutaneous fat sits under the skin and is not very harmful. On the other hand, a big tummy means one has visceral fat that surrounds the organs. It is a “deep-rooted” fat that changes that way the body functions.
“If two people are overweight, the one having subcutaneous fat is less likely to have diabetes than the one with visceral fat,” says Dr Tejal Lathia, consultant, endocrinologist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi. However, it does not mean that a person with subcutaneous fat storage cannot develop diabetes, she added.
When should you get checked for diabetes?
People over 40 years of age should get checked for the disease. Those who are younger are likely to develop it if they have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle or suffer from hypertension. The other signs to watch out for are:
* If the Body Mass Index (BMI) is more than 23, one is likely to get diabetes.
* A person having a history of gestational diabetes, which means that a pregnant woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar during her carrying period, is a sign of diabetes.
* Giving birth to a baby weighing more than four kilos is also a sign, according to Dr Monika Sharma, Consultant, Endocrinology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi.
What difference has the study made?
The study has made it easier to predict who can or cannot develop diabetes in the future. Dr Atul Gogia, co-author and senior consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Our study found that diabetics had significantly greater waist circumference than non-diabetics. Also, diabetics had lesser thigh circumference than non-diabetics.
“We found Waist Thigh Ratio (WTR) of 2.3 as a cut-off point as a predictor of diabetes. Simply put, a person having Waist Thigh Ratio (WTR) less than 2.3 will be at low risk of diabetes and may not require further investigation.”
The waist circumference is often used as a parameter for diagnosing diabetes. Dr V Mohan, who is the chairman and Chief of Diabetology at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention, uses a scoring system which screens the patient’s weight, family history, age and waist circumference.
Why are Indians more prone to have diabetes?
A carb-heavy diet with little protein and high sugar content makes Indians more likely to have diabetes.
The study has made it easier to predict diabetes effectively and inexpensively and this screening can help in further treating the disease.