Study finds rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes among youth in South India

One study found that the percentage increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes was greater among younger individuals than among older individuals in South India over a 10-year period. Obesity and a family history of diabetes were found to be the primary contributing factors to the increase in prevalence.

A team of doctors led by A. Ramachandran from India Diabetes Research Foundation and Dr. A. Ramachandran's Diabetes Hospitals studied the prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes and its associated risk factors among young individuals aged 20 to 39 years and older individuals aged 40 years and above over a 10-year period (2006 – 2016). They have published the findings of the study in an article – “Rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes among young people in South India – An ancillary analysis of the Secular Trends in Diabetes in India (STRIDE-I) study” Journal of Diabetes,

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According to the doctors, the analysis was done using data from two epidemiological surveys conducted in three areas – Chennai (city), Kanchipuram (town) and Panruti (peri-urban village) – in 2006 and 2016. A total of 7,066 people were enrolled for Survey I and 9,848 for Survey II.

Nandita Arun, lead author of the study, said, “The survey conducted in 2006 found a 9% prevalence of diabetes in the rural area. When we went back in 2016, we found that it had increased to 13%. In Chennai, the prevalence increased from 18% to 22%. Now, we used the same analysis to look at the prevalence of diabetes among older and younger populations and found that there was a significant increase in the prevalence of diabetes in the younger group compared to the older population over a decade's time.”

The study found that the prevalence of diabetes increased in both age groups over a decade's time. Specifically, the authors found that the prevalence of diabetes in the younger population increased from a mere 4.5% to 7.8% over a period of 10 years; an increase of 36%. In comparison, the prevalence in older individuals increased from 28.4% to 34%, an increase of 11%. The incidence of diabetes increased by 120% in younger individuals and by 150% in the older group, the study said.

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'Chronic disorder'

Dr Nandita said, “Type 2 diabetes is a chronic and lifelong disorder. When it is diagnosed at a young age and its prevalence is increasing, it is worrisome as they will live longer with the condition and the risk of complications will be higher. They will be at greater risk of the ill effects of diabetes and hyperglycemia.”

Why did the prevalence increase? He explained that when adjusted for family history and age, they found that waist circumference – abdominal obesity – was an independent risk factor. “We found that physical activity decreased significantly across the entire study population, while dietary habits also worsened with an increase in fat consumption and higher calorie intake. While family history and age are non-modifiable risk factors, adopting a healthy lifestyle, improving dietary habits and physical activity may help young individuals manage modifiable risk factors such as abdominal obesity,” he said.

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