A wealthier India sees alarming rise in adolescent diabetes
Rohin Sarin is midway through his 9th grade geography class when he starts feeling light-headed and dizzy, a sign that his blood sugar levels are dipping. He quietly removes his insulin pen from his school bag, gives himself one of four daily jabs and takes a bite of an energy bar.
The 15-year-old's classmates in New Delhi have seen the ritual so often they are no longer curious. Rohin is one of a growing number of Indians with diabetes, the disease increasingly afflicting children and adolescents in the fast-growing South Asian country.
More than two decades of rapid economic growth has changed Indians' lifestyles. People eat out more often, and prefer Western-style junk food such as burgers and pizza over traditional lentil and vegetable meals. They are also more sedentary, using cars and public transportation instead of walking or riding bicycles, and entertaining themselves with television.
The changes have brought a sharp rise in obesity, along with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, even as India still has some of the world's worst levels of malnourishment and stunted childhood growth due to a paucity of food.
"Over the last 20 years, we are seeing a huge explosion ... mainly because of increasing childhood obesity," said Dr. Monica Arora, a specialist with the Public Health Foundation of India.
Nearly 30 percent of India's teenagers are obese, nearly twice the number in 2010, according to health ministry statistics.
India has 70 million diabetics, though it has no data on how many are children and likely has millions more cases that haven't been diagnosed due to sp Continue reading