India is under siege, commanded by a raging epidemic called diabetes. In 2017 some 72 million Indians were suffering from one form or another of the disease. There were around 42.4 million that were undiagnosed and another 24 million who were detected with prediabetes.

These numbers are expected to go up leaps and bounds, and India as it stands today, has great potential to be on the top of the diabetic charts in 2045, at least in the top 3.

The most common form of the ailment, Type 2 diabetes, is a chronic metabolic disorder that used to be called adult onset diabetes but has now been renamed in part because so many children are developing it. Not only are these children likely to face a lifetime of problems – including higher risk of blindness, heart disease and stroke to name a few- they are also a warning sign that something in our way of life has gone terribly wrong.

The medical fraternity will tell us that the reason for this explosion is obvious: Indians are eating too much and exercising too little or not at all. There is no question that excessive weight increases your risk of becoming diabetic. But that explains only part of the problem. Diabetes has a strong genetic component. A complex picture is emerging that is changing the way we think about what was already a complex disease.

But today, it turns out that patients are not as helpless as they once thought, especially if they are warned at the condition’s’ earliest stages. Changes in lifestyle and diet can in the vast majority of cases make a big difference. The future of anyone with diabetes has never been brighter, provided the right treatment is available.

But the failure to act as a society and at individual levels has never reached such devastating levels. Here’s a snapshot of where India stands in the diabetes tally.

Number of diabetics in India in 2017 – 72 million

Number of diabetics expected in India in 2045 – 151 million
Increase % from 2017 to 2045 in India – 84%
Increase % from 2017 to 2045 in the World – 48%

Top 10 countries for the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes (20 to 79 years), 2017

China – 61.3million – (53% undiagnosed)
India – 42.4million – (57.9% undiagnosed)
USA – 11.5million – (38.2%undiagnosed

Top 10 countries for the number of people with impaired glucose intolerance (20-79 years), 2017 and 2045

China – 48.6 million (2017), 59.9 million (2045)
USA – 36.8 million (2017), 43.2 million (2045)
Indonesia – 27.7 million (2017), 35.6 million (2045)
India – 24 million (2017), 41 million (2045)
India will move from the 4th to the 3rd position in 2045

Top 10 countries for number of adults with diabetes (20-79 years) and their healthcare expenditure in 2017

China – Diabetics – 114 million, Expenditure – 110 billion ID
India – Diabetics – 73 million, Expenditure – 32 billion ID
USA – Diabetics – 30 million, Expenditure – 348 billion ID

ID is a hypothetical currency with the same purchasing power parity (PPP) of USD in the United States of America at a given point in time, and is used to make comparisons both between regions and over time.

Top 10 countries for number of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes (< 20 years), 2017

USA – 1,69,900
India – 1,28,500
Brazil – 88,300

Top 10 countries / territories for number of new cases of type 1 diabetes (children and adolescents < 20 years), per year

USA – 17,100
India – 16,800
Brazil – 9,600

Top 10 countries / territories for number of new cases of type 1 diabetes (children and adolescents < 15 years), per year

USA – 14,700
India – 11,300
Brazil – 7,600

With a prevalence rate of 10.4%, India is the home to the second largest number of adults living with diabetes worldwide after China.

At a regional level (South East Asia), in 2017, India was the largest contributor to the regional mortality, with nearly 1 million deaths attributable to diabetes.

Statistics Courtesy – 8th edition of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) diabetes atlas 2017.