What Indians eat and how could be fueling the diabetes epidemic across the country, suggests a new survey that interviewed 4,000 diabetic patients across eight cities.
The main culprit could be the Indian craving for rice, fine-flour rotis or upma – all carbohydrate-based foodstuff high on calories but low on much-needed fibre. “Rice accounts for 48% of the daily calorific intake of most Indians,” said endocrinologist Dr V Mohan from Chennai. Considering that most types of white rice rapidly increase the blood sugar levels, caution is advised.
But urban Indians who suffer from diabetes seem far from cautious. The new survey, titled Food, Spikes and Diabetes Survey, showed seven out of 10 people with diabetes in urban India paid little attention to what and how much they eat. Carbohydrates are supposed to comprise only 60% of the plate, but 70% of those surveyed in Mumbai and 84% of those in Chennai consumed more.
There is also a problem with how Indians eat. “Indians tend to eat so fast that the pancreas struggles to produce adequate insulin for metabolising the food,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, president of the Indian Academy of Diabetes.
Indian diabetic patients also fail to observe healthy gaps between meals, said Dr Joshi. The survey, for instance, shows that Mumbaikars have their breakfast two hours and 25 minutes after waking up, and Hyderabadis wait over three hours. “Eighty percent of respondents eat three to four meals per day. The gap between meals ranges from four-and-a-half to seven hours,” said the findings.
“Typically, Indians have a three to four hour gap between wake-up time and breakfast, which is detrimental for these patients. Therefore, they should have a shorter time gap with breakfast comprising whole grains,” said Dr Joshi.
Indians also have a tendency to feast in festivals. “Indians take festive occasions seriously and people with diabetes seem to follow the trend-30% of respondents claimed to go easy on their diet in festive occasions. The survey, conducted by pharma major Abbot, showed 62% of those interviewed had a body mass index of over 22.9 and 65% had uncontrolled blood sugar levels.