Why Diabetes?

Diabetes has become a development issue, threatening not just the health but also the economic prosperity of nations. People with diabetes have high cardiovascular risk, are 25 times more likely to develop blindness, and 17 times more likely to develop kidney disease than people without diabetes.

  • 1 person is diagnosed with diabetes every 5 seconds.
  • 1 person dies from the complications of diabetes every 10 seconds.
  • 1 limb is amputated every 30 seconds.

We believe that the “tsunami”of diabetes demands major changes in society as well as international action, and that if we take concrete steps to prevent the disease in India, we will have a definite impact in reducing the global burden of the disease.

Diabetes in India/South Asians in the U.S.

The disease burden in India is alarming: 20% of the people have one chronic disease and 10% more than one. India has a massive diabetes burden and the average person develops diabetes ten years earlier than in the West. South Asians also account for 60% of the world’s heart patients.

South Asians in the US have been shown to have much higher risk for NCDs than other ethnicities. They have the highest death rate from heart disease and get heart disease 5-10 years earlier than other Americans. South Asians also have a much higher diabetes prevalence (23% in South Asians, 6% in whites).

Reducing the risk for diabetes among South Asians in the US is an enormous public health urgency. Arogya World wants to bring our multi-level community approaches from India to help South Asians in the Chicago area lead healthier lives. We want to see if a combination of four activities – mHealth, lifestyle coach-led behavior change, school mobilization, and workplace-led community activities – can increase adoption of healthy behaviors and improve the overall health of the South Asian community.

South Asians are also the fast growing major ethnic group in the US.

Diabetes preventable

Two landmark clinical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that people can reduce their chances of getting diabetes with lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise.

Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention

The Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-center, major clinical trial conducted with 3,234 people at risk for diabetes in the U.S. found that an intensive lifestyle intervention consisting of 30 minutes of physical activity each day and a low-fat diet reduced the chance of getting diabetes by 58%. Metformin, a commonly used first-line pharmaceutical treatment for diabetes, reduced the chance by only 31%.

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Changes in Lifestyle

The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study found that sustained changes in lifestyle could substantially reduce the development of Type II diabetes. This large, well-designed study involved more than 500 overweight middle-aged men and women who were at high risk of diabetes. After four years, the lifestyle intervention group (better diet, increased physical activity and modest weight loss), had more than a 50% reduction in diabetes incidence.