KOLKATA, 6 MAY: Want to ward off diabetes ? Well, avoid escalators, climb stairs, use public transport that allows one to walk a bit before boarding a vehicle, avoid using cars for short distance travel and take to cycling.
These simple lifestyle changes can help curb diabetes and also keep the environment clean, prescribes Dr Richard Holt, professor of diabetes and endocrinology in the University of Southampton.
Even as India had exceeded its diabetes projections for year 2030 in 2012, environmentally unsustainable transport and rapid urbanisation continue to trigger the disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted net losses in national income from diabetes and cardiovascular disease of $ 557.7 billion in China, $ 303.2 billion in the Russian Federation, $ 336.6 billion in India, $ 49.2 billion in Brazil and $ 2.5 billion in Tanzania, between 2005 and 2015. With an estimated 50.8 million people living with diabetes, India has the world’s largest diabetes population, followed by China with 43.2 million.
Dr Holt, who had come to attend a diabetes conference organised by Kolkata Diabetes and Endocrinology Forum in the city during the day, said a simple life-syle may bring down the rate of diabetes among people. Though there have not been many studies to substantiate a direct link between environmental degradation and rise in cases of diabetes, one cannot rule out that rapid, unplanned urbanisation triggers the disease, he added. An environmentally sustainable transport system and living conditions are essential to curb diseases like hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases that are so prevalent in major cities.
The age-standardised incidence rates for type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus were 0.15 and 3.03 cases per 1,000 population, respectively in Sweden that promotes cycling as a major health exercise and environmentally sustainable transport option. However, in India seven out of every 100 adult Indians are diabetic where cycling is seen as a transport option only for the poor.
The National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is one of the eight missions under National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) and aims to make cities sustainable through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, management of solid waste and shift to public transport.
The NMSH was supposed to cover aspects like better urban planning and modal shift to public transport as one of the thrust areas. Under the NAPCC, every state had to formulate a state action plan for climate change. While the concept of green buildings is now being taken up gradually, a policy that promotes public transport is off the government’s radar. Diabetes is one of the major causes of premature illness and death worldwide. Non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, account for 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide.