Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Diabetes: A Not-So-Sweet Story


India is deemed as the world’s capital of diabetes with the diabetic population in the country close to hitting the alarming mark of 69.9 million by 2025 and 80 million by 2030. We make you re-visit its impact

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes is far more complexed to understand than it sounds. Here we give a low down on various types, causes, symptoms and consequences of the ailment.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas no longer can make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin, the hormone made by the pancreas acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the blood and insulin helps this glucose get into the cells.

Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood, also known as hyperglycemia or diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

In Diabetes, the body’s ability to process blood glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar, is impaired. Untreated high blood sugar can damage nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is the most common forms of the disease diagnosed in patients.

In 2019, approximately 463 million adults between 20-79 years were living with diabetes, and by 2045 this will rise to a staggering 700 million.

Type 1 Diabetes is the most severe form of the disease and affects about 10 per cent of people with the disease. It can develop at any age but occurs most frequently in children and adolescents. Known as juvenile diabetes, here the body produces very little, or no insulin as the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, the sugar stays in the blood and builds up.

Patients with type I diabetes are artificial insulin-dependent and often require daily insulin injections to keep their blood glucose levels under control.

Type 2 Diabetes is more common in adults and accounts for around 90 per cent of all diabetes cases globally. It typically develops after the age of 35 and is non-insulin dependent.

Gestational Diabetes is pregnancy-induced diabetes that consists of high blood glucose during pregnancy and is associated with complications to both mother and child. Though it typically resolves after the baby is delivered, but the women affected and their children are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in their life.


The International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas Ninth edition 2019 provides the latest figures, information and projections on diabetes worldwide.

Dr Rajiv Dang, Senior Director & HOD, Internal Medicine and Medical Director at Max Hospital, Gurgaon, is a leading Diabetic Specialist in the city. “Lack of physical activity, obesity, high carbs diet, low awareness, low compliance to advice, financial limitations, no preventive checks, genetics are some of the most common causes of diabetes. There are cases where patients develop diabetes due to pancreas disease, may be secondary to alcohol or gall stones. Fifty per cent damage has already happened when the sugar is found high in routine tests, as the obesity, and fatty diet that kept causing more stress on pancreas was never given importance.”


When left untreated or uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to potential complications including cardiac issues, slow healing of wounds, sexual problems, blindness or a visual impairment, kidney failure, liver damage, repeated infections because adult immunisation is poor here, nerve damage and risk of stroke among others. “You will be surprised to know that leg or toes amputation because of diabetes needs more money than cardiac issues in India” concludes Dr Dang.


An active lifestyle involving physical activity to keep body weight in check is of critical importance. Fewer cereals, zero sweet and fried food items, avoiding bakery & confectionery products, less intake of red meat and yolk are recommended rules for diabetic patients.

This article was first published in the print version of SUBURB December 2019 issue.

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