Just a spoonful of sugar, after all. That is how casually diabetes has been perceived by most people. Many people diagnosed with the condition were nonchalant and continued with the lifestyle choices they were comfortable and familiar with, shrugging off elevated blood sugar levels as nothing to really worry about. As a result, spooning a couple of heaps of sugar into one’s tea was done without a care in the world, simply because that is how it tasted best. But in just a few decades, diabetes became the infamous ‘silent epidemic’, and is today one of our most serious health concerns, world over.
Globally, one out of every five people older than 65 is a diabetic. By 2045, there could be 700 million diabetics in the world between the ages of 20 and 79. In 2019, this number stood at 463 million, and 79 per cent of these people were in the low- and middle-income countries. According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2019, there were 77 million diabetics in India—a staggering burden for the country. Diabetes prevalence among adults in India currently stands at 12 per cent of the population. These are people who, to some extent or the other, suffer from a very fundamental dysfunction—that of not being able to regulate their blood sugar levels. This dysfunction arises because the body can no longer effectively use whatever insulin—the body’s natural hormone that can regulate blood sugar—is being produced. This is Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, far more rare and showing up in children and the young, is a condition where the body does not produce enough or any insulin because the cells necessary to do this are impaired or destroyed.