Why more Indian youths are getting diagnosed with diabetes after Covid-19

Hospital data and surveys show that those suffering from diabetes are higher in the age group of 40 to 60 years when compared to other age groups.

Hyderabad: Post-Covid, 25- to 34-year-olds are reporting to hospitals with high sugar levels. The number of doctor consultations among young adults has increased by 44% compared to 2021, according to Practo, an integrated online healthcare platform.

Ahead of World Diabetes Day, observed on 14 November, hospital data in India has shown a 20 to 30% increase in diabetes in those who recovered from severe Covid-19 infection.

Why are young adults developing diabetes?

Diabetologists say that the young and adult population is suffering due to multiple reasons after Covid-19. The reasons are:

· Exposure to steroids during Covid-19 treatment

· Sedentary lifestyle

· High levels of stress

· Unhealthy eating and sleeping pattern

· Increase in abdominal obesity

These multiple reasons have led to onset of diabetes post-pandemic.

Dr. Ravindra Kumar, consultant internal medicine at Amor Hospitals, explains, "The burden of diabetes has increased post-pandemic as the younger age group is reporting to hospitals with high sugar levels. Before Covid-19, we saw a majority of the cases in those above 35 years. But now, we are seeing large numbers of youngsters who are in their 20s. This is because those who were admitted in hospitals for severe Covid-19 infections were given steroids which increased sugar levels in the body."

He adds, "To add to the problem was a long period of sedentary lifestyle as movement was restricted due to Covid-19 precautions. These factors have led to an increase in abdominal obesity, unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns and high-stress levels. These also are a contributory factor for high-sugar levels causing diabetes."

Data and research studies are being carried out at different hospitals and medical colleges for the early onset of diabetes after Covid-19. Dr Kumar says, "After Covid-19, the incidence of diabetes in India has doubled and the numbers are worrisome."

Data estimates of India

Estimates of diabetes incidence show that 1 in 11 adults suffer from the disease. The total estimated burden is 9 crore people in India suffer from diabetes. India ranks second in the world for diabetes.

Doctor consultation data collated by Practo for 2021 and 2022 shows:

· 18 to 24 years were the highest in number of new consultations.

· 54 years and above were less in the number of new consultations

This data is being viewed keeping the accessibility and the reach of young adults to online platforms compared to the elderly.

Hospital data and surveys show that those suffering from diabetes are higher in the age group of 40 to 60 years when compared to other age groups.

Multiple factors led to diabetes after Covid-19

Dr. Praveen Kumar Kulkarni, senior consultant physician and diabetologist at KIMS Hospital, Secunderabad explains, "There is injudicious onset of diabetes as there are multiple factors involved after the viral infection in the body. The post-viral inflammation and damage to the pancreas are also being studied to understand the increasing burden of diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle also becomes a major risk factor as many of them work from home which restricts movement. These factors along with viral impact are playing a huge role in the early onset of diabetes."

Preventive steps a public health policy

The need for prevention has to be a part of the public health system with a strong public health campaign and policy change on advertising and healthy eating.

With lifestyle changes in the majority of the population and due to changing work cultures, there is a need to encourage a healthy lifestyle, daily walking, fiber-rich foods, avoiding sugared beverages, less intake of sugar, and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.

The crux has to be on a balanced diet with good physical activity which will help to control the damage that the virus has caused to the body systems.

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