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Times of India
21 May 2010
By Pushpa Narayan
Chennai, India

Diabetes Shifts Base
Luxuries Of Urbanisation Minus Fitness Regimes Make Incidence Of High Blood Sugar Common In Suburbs, Small Towns
Midway through their journey into urbanisation, suburbs and small towns are finding themselves in precarious health.

Results of a cohort study presented at an international conference recently shows that a higher number of people living in semi–urban areas have diabetes and hypertension when compared to those in cities.

Healthcare experts are concerned that a greater number of people in these areas now run the risk of cardiac arrests, renal failures and strokes.

Says Dr S Thanikachalam, lead investigator of the study and cardiology head at Sri Ramachandra University, who presented the results at an international conference in the city recently: "We found that nearly 22.2% of people in semi–urban areas have diabetes compared to 17.5% in urban and 14.5% in rural areas. Similarly, the number of people with hypertension was 26.4% in suburban areas compared to 17.3% in urban and 17.9% in the rural population."

The number of people with prediabetic and pre–hypertensive conditions was also found to be higher in semi–urban areas. Here is the logic: Suburbs and small towns have moved away from the routine physical exertions of villagers and neither do they have the awareness and wherewithal for an organised exercise regime like gymnasia.

The study, funded by the department of Science and Technology screened 6,000 people in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram. "We found 43.3% of people with abnormal glucose metabolism, 75.3% with abnormal lipid profiles and 52% with high blood pressure. Though only a person with blood pressure higher than 140/90 is considered hypertensive, people with 135/85 also require intervention. So, at least 50% of our population would require intervention in one form or another," says Dr Thanikachalam.

State health secretary V K Subburaj says the government is seized of the matter. "We have programmes like door–to–door screening of people. We have been working out new awareness and prevention strategies," he said.

Another disturbing trend the study revealed was that nearly 80% of the people had shown signs of physiological distress, including anxiety, stress or depression. "It was due to various factors including loss of a family member, financial problems or even other emotional issues. We have adequate studies that prove how lack of good mental health can trigger a series of non–communicable diseases. We think it is necessary to have a series of problems including counselling for such people," he said.

Diabetes Shifts Base