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Urban Richy Rich on the Mend, Not So in Chandigarh

Having had their fill of a sedentary lifestyle, resulting from the economic boom following liberalisation, the urban rich appear to be on the mend, surprisingly not in richy rich Chandigarh. The lifestyle virus is now afflicting the rural rich.

This shows in the latest near-countrywide study on prevalence of diabetes published recently in the prestigious journal The Lancet. Dr Anil Bhansali, Professor and Head of Department of Endocrinology, PGI alongwith fellow doctors who were part of the team which supervised the survey in Chandigarh and Punjab, took journalists through the salient features, unusual observations, conclusions and implications of the survey during a briefing at the PGI on Saturday.

The first structured survey carried out in 14 states and Union Territory of Chandigarh between November 2008 and July 2015 involved a community-based sample of 57,117 individuals aged 20 years or older.

Urban Richy Rich on the Mend, Not So in Chandigarh, Lifeinchd

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Dr Bhansali informed that though several others states were yet to be covered under the ongoing survey, the conclusions drawn are reasonably representative of the entire country.

The most important conclusion from the survey is that the prevalence of diabetes in the country is much lower (7.3 percent of the total population) than previously thought (10 to 13 percent). The inclusion of 6 of the North-Eastern states for the first time in any survey is decidedly one of the major factors for the decline. As against 8.3 percent prevalence of diabetes in mainland states, it is 5.9 percent in N-E states.

States with higher per-capita GDP seemed to have a high prevalence of diabetes. Here’s where Chandigarh, which has the highest GDP of US $ 3433, continues to carry the dubious distinction of having the highest prevalence of 13.6 percent.  As against the general trend, where the urban rich population afflicted with diabetes appears to have stabilised and the diabetes graph is on an upswing among rural rich and urban poor, in Chandigarh the urban rich are on an even keel with the rural rich and urban poor population.

Giving reasons for the possible stabilisation of diabetes figures among the urban rich, Dr Bhansali said the general awareness about following a healthy lifestyle may have turned the tide. But surprisingly in Chandigarh, the young population doesn’t appear to have leant a lesson from the ill effect of a sedentary lifestyle.  Recollecting a 2009-10 survey conducted by PGI in limited urban sectors in the city, Dr Bansali said 66 percent of the people in the age group of 20 to 40 years in the survey had admitted to little or no physical activity.

He attributed the shift of diabetes prevalence towards the rural rich to the fruits of economic liberalisation arriving late in the rural areas. The urban poor, especially those living in cities with high cost of living, were being forced to live on high-carbohydrate less-protein diet, leading to higher prevalence of diabetes among them.

He wanted the rich Chandigarh population, especially the young among them, to mend their ways, restrict their intake of fast foods and walk and exercise more. For rural rich and urban poor, he said the administration must up its awareness drives and improve health facilities.

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