The uniting factor amongst people of different strata of society in urban areas seems to be ill health. Viewed as a rich person's disease in India, diabetes has begun affecting the urban poor. "The spread of diabetes to economically disadvantaged sections of society is a matter of great concern, warranting urgent preventive measures", is the alarming find of a national study. Conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research–INdia DIABetes, the study aims to estimate the national prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes in India by estimating the prevalence by state. The study assessed the prevalence of diabetes in different states in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) of individuals and the per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) of each state. Read the original report here:

The richer the region, the higher the prevalence of diabetes amongst its poor, is the stunning revelation. Could this be because the poor are copying the fast food habits of the richer folk? According to leading diabetologist Dr Chetan E Abraham, this can be attributed to a lifestyle change and a lack of awareness among the urban poor. "The middle and upper classes are more aware and they exercise more, but the urban poor lead a comparatively sedentary lifestyle and eat mostly junk food. This is a growing concern and the situation will worsen, unless awareness increases," he says. Dietitian and wellness consultant Sheela Krishnaswamy echoes his sentiments and says, "The lifestyle that they are trying to adopt in the city is the main reason as the physical activity in the rural areas is much higher than in the urban region. The second reason is that ready-to-eat fast food is more easily available in the cities and more and more, people are choosing the eat this instead of home-cooked meals." She also attributes higher pollution levels in the urban areas and habits such as smoking and drinking as causes.

Awareness of diabetes and preventive measures is increasing amongst the higher income groups but not amongst the lower income groups.


  Text by Aditya Mendonca