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Prevalence of diabetes in India

High Prevalence of Diabetes in India

Diabetes is a major health problem worldwide. According to a report published by the World Health Organization in 2021, over 420 million people have diabetes globally. Most of them come from low-income and middle-income countries, including India. The prevalence of diabetes in India is becoming higher and higher. There is a particularly alarming prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in India.

Diabetes is a serious health concern in India. The mortality rates from diabetes have increased significantly.

As per The Diabetes Atlas 2021 by the International Diabetes Federation, India accounts for 1 in 7 of all adults living with diabetes worldwide.

Additionally, the same source indicates that India has the second largest number (74.2 million) of diabetic adults.

Global Statistics -Prevalence of diabetes
Number of people with diabetes worldwide and per IDF Region in 2021–2045 (20–79 years). Source: The Diabetes Atlas 2021.

Diabetes: symptoms, prevention measures and types

Diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases in India. It can either be caused by insufficient insulin production or by the body’s inability to utilize insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the level of glucose in the blood.

Diabetes symptoms

The most common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Extreme fatigue,

  • Feeling hungry and thirsty constantly,

  • Developing inflections more frequently,

  • Unintended weight loss,

  • Frequent urination (especially at night), etc.

Prevention measures

In order to detect diabetes early and control it, regular blood tests and general check-ups are essential.

It is recommended to take the following steps:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet. It’s essential to reduce the consumption of sugar and saturated fats.

  • Following a healthy lifestyle ( such as exercising on a regular basis, controlling weight, and avoiding tobacco).

This can affect positively the regulation of insulin levels.

Prevalence of type 2 diabetes in India

Diabetes Types

Here are the most common types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes may develop at any age. In most cases, children and adolescents suffer from Type 1 diabetes. The body produces very little or no insulin in case of Type 1 diabetes. To control blood sugar levels, patients with Type 1 diabetes need insulin injections on a daily basis.

Type 2 diabetes

Approximately 90% of all diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use the insulin in an effective way.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes refers to high blood sugar during the pregnancy. In most cases, it just disappears after women give birth. This type of diabetes may occur at any stage of pregnancy. Most often, it happens during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

During pregnancy and after delivery, gestational diabetes can cause problems for both mother and baby.

More statistics on the prevalence of diabetes in India

Further statistics from the Diabetes Atlas 2021 confirm the high prevalence of diabetes in India:

  • The number of adults with diabetes (aged 20-79) is predicted to reach 124.9 million in 2045.

  • India has the highest number of Type 1 diabetes cases (229.400) among people under the age of 20.

  • The number of people with undiagnosed diabetes reached 39.4 million in India as of 2021. This means that 53.1% of the Indian diabetic population is undiagnosed.

This information is quite alarming. When diabetes isn’t treated properly, it can lead to dangerous complications (including blindness, stroke, etc.).

Prevalence of diabetes in India
Top 10 countries or territories for number of adults (20–79 years) with diabetes in 2021 and 2045. Source: The Diabetes Atlas 2021

Main causes for the prevalence of diabetes in India

Lack of exercise

Lack of exercise can reduce the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. That’s why exercise of any kind enables our muscle cells to use insulin more efficiently.

The nationwide study ‘Physical Activity Patterns in India Stratified by Zones, Age, Region, BMI and Implications for COVID-19′ presents interesting findings.

57% of people in India do not follow WHO guidelines regarding physical activity, according to a survey conducted as part of the research.

Genetic factors

The article titled ‘Why Are Indians Prone to Diabetes’ published in the Journal of The Association of Physicians of India reveals key points:

  • There is a greater predisposition to diabetes among people in India, as they have a higher degree of insulin resistance.

  • Genetic susceptibility plays an essential role in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in India. However, identifying a single genetic susceptibility factor for Type 2 diabetes is a hard task. The main reason is that the interaction between genetic and environmental factors is quite complex.

Obesity and excessive intake of sweets

In India, sugary sweets are an integral part of religious festivals and social gatherings. It is an essential element of the Indian culture.

The urbanization has led to a higher consumption of calorie-dense sugary foods and beverages according to the study ‘Sugar Intake, Obesity, and Diabetes in India’. Researchers suggest that calorie intake is strongly associated with obesity. They think obese people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Recently India has been facing the challenge of obesity among children and adolescents.

The UNICEF’s World Obesity Atlas for 2022 predicts that India will have over 27 million obese children by 2030. This means 1 in 10 children globally.

So, the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in India is turning into a major problem.

Tech innovations for diabetes care

The use of the cutting-edge technology in health care can be the key to address the rising prevalence of diabetes in India.

The accessibility of diabetes care devices has increased in India. The launch of Abbott’s continuous glucose monitoring technology – FreeStyle Libre in India is a successful example. Diabetes patients can manage their condition more efficiently with this glucose monitoring system.

Indian healthtech startups use innovative tech solutions to facilitate diabetes care. Here are a few examples:


Artelus provides advanced screening tools for doctors and hospitals. The startup’s deep learning and artificial intelligence-based solution promote the early stage detection of diabetic retinopathy (caused by Type 2 diabetes).


ChironX’s product is a diagnostic software for detecting severe diseases from medical images. The artificial intelligence based software analyzes retinal fundus images within seconds. Doctors and non-specialists use it to diagnose diabetic retinopathy and other retinal disorders.


HealthifyMe developed AI-powered nutrition coach Ria. It assists users with diabetes-related queries. Ria is a combination of technology and real human services.


Docus connects the world’s best doctors with Indian hospitals to treat patients with severe diseases, including diabetes. It has partnered with the best endocrinologists from the USA and Europe. In this way, diabetes patients can receive the second opinion and most appropriate treatment based on medical knowledge and expertise.

To wrap it all up, the prevalence of diabetes in India is increasing at a rapid pace. The reasons are various, like genetic factors, obesity(often associated with Type 2 diabetes in India), etc. So, diabetes awareness, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular health checks are vital steps to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.   

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