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The Rise of Diabetes in India: Urban Poor most affected


As per a study done by ICMR, 69.2 million persons are diabetic as of 2015 compared to 61.3 million persons in 2011. The study also indicates that the poorer sections of the society are worst affected.


The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 estimated the total number of people with Diabetes in India is 69.2 million. Studies have indicated that India is one of the three countries with most number of diabetic people.

Answering a question in the Rajya Sabha on July 18, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Anupriya Patel shared that the Indian Medical Council of Medical Research is currently undertaking a study to understand the prevalence of Diabetes across the country. The ongoing study has been published in leading medical journal, The Lancet.

According to the study, in phase I, four regions, representing the south (Tamil Nadu), north (Chandigarh), east (Jharkhand), and west (Maharashtra) of the country were studied from Nov 17, 2008, to April 16, 2010. Between Sept 24, 2012, and July 26, 2013, five mainland states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Punjab) and between Jan 5, 2012, and July 3, 2015, six north-eastern states (Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, and Meghalaya) were sampled. So far, 15 states have been sampled.

Diabetes in Urban areas significantly higher than in Rural areas

The study found that the prevalence of Diabetes was significantly higher in urban areas than in rural areas in all age groups and higher in men than in women in all ages between 35 and 65 years of age. In the age group above 65 years, the prevalence in women was slightly higher than men.Rise of Diabetes in India_1What about diabetes prevalence based on Socio-Economic status?

As the graph indicates, the prevalence of Diabetes was found to be higher in individuals of low socio-economic status in urban areas of seven states, most of them ranked as economically advanced states. On the contrary, the prevalence of Diabetes was found to be higher in individuals of higher economic status in rural areas. The study states that these findings provide evidence that as overall prosperity of states and India as a whole increases; the diabetes epidemic is likely to dis-proportionately affect the poorer sections of the society.Rise of Diabetes in India_2

Chandigarh has the highest prevalence of Diabetes

The findings point out to a possible link between GDP per capita and prevalence of Diabetes. Out of the 15 states, Chandigarh – which has the highest per capita income, had the highest prevalence of Diabetes and Bihar, which has the lowest GDP among the sampled states, also has the lowest prevalence. The study also found that the prevalence of Diabetes was lower in the north-eastern states than in the rest of the sampled states.Rise of Diabetes in India_3

The trends and data mapped by this study give critical insight into the nature of the diabetic epidemic in India. It highlights that the individuals most affected by it are the ones who cannot afford to pay for it.

Source of Charts: ICMR Study
Featured Image: Rise of Diabetes in India


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Tejeswi Pratima Dodda is a communications professional. She is passionate about social justice, gender mainstreaming and conflict.

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