NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 12, 2011 (Reuters Blogs): It's festival season in India, with the celebrations providing a perfect opportunity for family outings, late-night parties and customary feasting on sweets. But health experts warn that the festivities, coupled with genetic predisposition and lifestyle changes brought about by the increasing prosperity of the middle class, is contributing to the country being called the world's "diabetes capital," with the highest number of diabetics in any nation.
The string of festivals, starting with Durga Puja and Dussehra and ending with Diwali, take place in accordance with the Hindu calendar and the dates change every year. "For the next one month or so, it is all either festivals or outings," says Anoop Misra, chairman at New Delhi's Fortis-C-DOC, Center of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology. "During this time, the rate of obesity goes up, sugar control of established diabetics goes down and those who are predisposed to develop diabetes also show diabetes."
Experts warn the festival fun -- and, not least, the culture of sweet-eating that peaks then -- can help trigger long-term health problems, with diabetes only the start. The disease is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood and can lead to more serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, damage to the kidneys or nerves, and blindness.